Students find the balance between studying and parenting

Finding a balance between finishing a political science degree and raising her 7-month-old daughter Promise can be an arduous task, but Quanisha Humphrey believes it is important. “It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it,” Humphrey said. Humphrey plans to pursue a career as a police officer after graduating from WKU. Alyse Young/HERALD

Shantel-Ann Pettway

With a baby-laden car seat in both hands, toilet paper clutched under one armpit and a duffle bag hung heavily across her chest, 24-year-old Quanisha Humphrey finally reached the top of the steps. She kicked the door of her apartment open, barely holding on to the items in her possession.

Humphrey let out a sigh of relief as she placed her daughter, Promise, just a few inches beyond the threshold and then sprinted down the steps to finish unloading the car.

Humphrey is now a senior at WKU, and although balancing parenting and school is difficult, she isn’t giving up.

“It gets crazy sometimes being a student and having a child because I have mommy brain, and I just forget everything that doesn’t concern Promise,” she said. “I’m the second person in my family to attend college, so I knew I just can’t quit.”

Humphrey isn’t the only student at WKU trying to find the balance between parenthood and academic success.

The university offers on-campus child care services with WKU Child Care Centers. More than half of the parents whose children are enrolled in the campus program are WKU students, according to Thelma Jackson, associate director of WKUCCC.

Jackson said WKUCCC was established to help enrolled college students with children. The resources help with child care but also assist families by providing them with grant opportunities, housing, food, clothing and on-campus job opportunities through their partnership with Student Employment.

Fees for child care services depend on whether the period is a half day or full day and whether services involve head-start or early-start education opportunities, according to Jackson.

WKU helps students stay on top of their academics by offering advising and tutoring services, Jackson said. She believes student parents who seek help are encouraged to continue with their education. 

“If students need help, we’re here for them. There’s no need to stop when you have the proper resources,” she said.

Bowling Green freshman Rosa Raudales enrolled her 3-year-old daughter after her foster mother referred her to the service. WKUCCC has helped her maintain her studies and gives her more time to spend with her daughter.

“I love how I can drop my daughter off early in the morning, go home, finish my school work, pick my daughter up, and we have all day to spend together,” Raudales said.

Humphrey receives additional assistance with her daughter from a family member. Freshman Distiny Potter, Humphrey’s niece, scheduled her classes around her aunt’s so she could alternate times to watch her cousin when her aunt is in class.

“My aunt has always been there for me, so I wanted to help her whenever I could,” Potter said.

The help is appreciated and makes things easier for Humphrey as she finishes her senior year.

“I had Promise during [junior year] finals week,” Humphrey said. “I was literally in the hospital bed typing papers for class and having contractions.”

In addition to the help Humphrey’s niece provides, she also receives accommodations from two of her professors. James Asare, an African-American studies program instructor, allows Humphrey to leave classes early, and Tambra Steelman, a part-time sociology faculty member, allows her to bring Promise to class, according to Humphrey.

While Humphrey is nearing the end of her senior year, she believes she can have the best of both worlds. Juggling school and motherhood is tough for Humphrey, but the smallest things are the hardest parts of her day.

As “Hey Arnold” plays loudly on the TV in the living room, Humphrey explains this is the only way her daughter will behave while being bathed.

“This is the hardest part of my day, because she’s such a busy body,” Humphrey said as she leaned over the tub.