Multiple student-parents presented at the recent Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activities (RSCA) Conference.
Participants in the May 6 event included Dannielle Cabrera, a psychology student, Andrea Escobar Vara, who is studying business administration and Jessica Coronel, who’s major is biochemistry.
The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) asked each a few questions about being a student-parent and researcher during the pandemic.
What research did you present at RSCA?
My research is on student-parent transfer pathways. My goal is to highlight the resilience of the student-parent transfers and the ways they navigate the transfer process.
I had two presentations for RSCA 2021; during the morning, I presented “HOW DOES CULTURE SHAPE CONSUMERS’ SHARING BEHAVIORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?” and “Parenting Through Higher Education” in the afternoon.
My project title is “Cyclic Dipeptide Synthesis: Laboratory Design.”
How did you get into research at Cal Poly Pomona?
I chose this research project because I am a parent, and it has taken me 13 years to get to Cal Poly Pomona. I started in 2007, but didn’t take community college seriously. After the birth of my son in 2016, I decided to return to school. I transferred Fall 2020 and since then have acquired research opportunities and maintained a 3.94 GPA, all the while raising my son, working full time, and living on our own.
I decided to pursue this research because I am fascinated by research, and the topic would give me more insights into my own life as a student-parent.
I was accepted to the Research through Inclusive Opportunities (RIO) Program, which is how I got involved in doing research for the past year. I decided to do research that was related to my major, since I am very passionate about chemistry.
How was the transition to online learning with the pandemic?
Transferring during a pandemic was a blessing and a curse. My heart sympathizes for those who genuinely miss their campus and the feeling of social interaction, but for a student-parent it was the best thing that could happen for me. I am able to stay home with my son and not have the stress that comes with commuting to school and finding child care. I will say that I find it a little difficult to process that I may graduate Fall 2021 and never have stepped foot on campus, but again I am grateful for being where I am and consider it an accomplishment regardless.
The first three months of the pandemic were like a break for me. Having my family spend time with my son while I focused on schoolwork was a nice change of pace. I did not have to worry about waking up at 7 a.m. to get ready for the one-hour drive to get to school, preparing lunch or packing extra clothes for my son who commutes with me so he can attend the Children’s Center. Then, at the end of Spring 2020, I was also able to join the Analytics and Marketing Insights Club as the director of campus community engagement, and I became a research assistant in the Center for Customer Insights and Digital Marketing (CCIDM).
Online classes have opened a lot of opportunities that would make it harder to do in person. Doing research online gave me the liberty and time to research my literature papers at my own time and schedule. I have also been able to participate in other clubs that I probably would not have been able to otherwise due to my daughter’s daycare schedule.
What are your struggles as a student-parent?
I am constantly juggling between being a parent, student and wife. My husband is also in the process of transferring and at times we don’t speak for days because we are so focused on school and work. There have been times where I cry for hours on and off because although I am close, the thought of still having to pursue a master’s is scary and frustrating. I find myself trapped in the “what ifs and why nots” of my situation as a student-parent. I found that seeking help through services such as Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and listening to my body have helped me through some of the dark moments, and I am grateful for what I have learned through some of these services.
I attended some of the meetings of the “Student-Parent Support Group” hosted by the Womxn’s Resource Center before the quarantine. These meetings helped me on different levels. For starters, seeing other student-parents (SPs) was a new experience and provided me with a safe space to talk about the struggles of being an SP. I was able to relate to the other SPs’ stories and struggles. Learning about other SPs’ journeys and strengths helped me in my own journey emotionally and reassured me that the internal struggles I face are normal, based on my circumstances.
Although online school has given me more academic and social opportunities, it has also been harder to be a parent and a student and an employee at the same time through Zoom. My daughter is a two-year-old toddler, and she’s always trying to climb on me and my desk while I am on Zoom. Sometimes I feel it’s stressful when I have to decide between my daughter and doing homework/studying. For example, there have been times when I have to decide between changing my daughter’s soiled diaper and finishing a timed exam/quiz. I have also cooked during class so that my daughter and I could eat, but this is distracting since I can’t focus solely on my class. I have been receiving a lot of help through my research program, my mentor, and from other parents in the Parenting Broncos Club.