By Stephanie Stanavich
Life for college students may not always be easy. Balancing studying, getting enough sleep and trying to maintain a social life may be challenging. For single mothers in college, they struggle with all of that plus caring for a child.
Jenna Koval is going to school for Diagnostic Medical Sonography while taking care of her two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Elliot. Koval originally attended Youngstown State University but decided to take classes through a smaller program that specializes in radiology.
“Being a mother is the most exhausting, but equally rewarding job,” Koval said. “There are so many aspects of motherhood that make it exciting and terrifying at the same time.”
Koval goes to school full time and works long hours to support her family.
“I work at Charlotte Russe, intern at St. Joseph’s hospital and go to school full time,” Koval said. “For me, there is not really a happy medium when you’re balancing school, work and a baby.”
There are many emotions that come into play when being a single mother.
“I always feeling like something is slipping, either I did horrible on an exam or I barely got to play with my son or I didn’t work enough hours,” Koval said. “If I don’t get to spend enough time with Elliot I feel awful because I want to spend 24/7 with him, and other days, especially on weekends, I feel like I’m missing out on my own life. My friends are going out and … I’m at home.”
Koval feels many single mothers go through the same emotional and physical struggles, but with the help of others, are able to persevere. Because of her status as a single mother, Koval said she has been stereotyped negatively.
“I have actually had people tell me that my son and I will amount to nothing, and that is my motivation,” Koval said. “I want to prove to everyone that told me I couldn’t do what I want to do wrong.”
Shayna Bryant, a freshman at YSU in dietetics, has a one-year-old baby named Zamaya.
Bryant said she struggled with learning to balance everyday college student activities with motherly duties.
“It was a very emotional time for me when I first became a mother, but now I have a schedule,” Bryant said. “I know what needs to be done in order for me to accomplish my goals to take care of my daughter at the same time.”
The advice Bryant would give to single mothers is that it is a difficult job, but it shapes you into the person you are meant to be.
“It’s not easy being a single mother in college, but it’s definitely worth it,” Bryant said. “It only shows you how strong you are as a person.”
Jaydin Paige, a dental hygiene student at YSU, dealt with being pregnant while taking classes and being at campus every day.
“I was always tired and felt nauseous in class,” Paige said. “Some days I had to stay home due to morning sickness and my feet hurt like crazy when I walked across campus.”
Paige has taken the fall semester off to take care of her newborn baby.
“She was born August 7th, so close to fall semester starting up, and it would be less stressful if I didn’t have to deal with school and work at the same time,” Paige said. “Plus I would be super exhausted staying up all night with her and then going to class.”
Paige said that she must take a hiatus from college parties; her party-going friends don’t talk to her and she prefers staying home and cuddling with her daughter.
Although there have been a lot of new challenges in her life after the birth of her child, Paige said there is no other path she would rather be on in life.
“It may be hard now, but it’s all worth it,” Paige said. “I wouldn’t change being a mother for the world.”