I was just 17 years old when I started my first semester at Front Range Community College. Starting college that soon was not in my life plan, but neither was becoming a mother at such an early age. I had just finished my junior year of high school when I found out I was going to be a mother. After that, I made the tough decision to get my G.E.D. and go to college right away because I believed that I would be providing myself and my son better life.

Challenging, but worth it.

Now three years later, I am set to graduate in May 2016 with an Associate of Arts and transfer to CSU in fall 2016 with my wonderful 2 year-old son by my side. The process has been challenging, but it has definitely been worth it.

It took me awhile to adjust as life as a single-parent and a student because I was always afraid I would put my son second to my studies or lose motivation to keep pursuing my degree. Once I figured out how to balance my time equally, I found my college experience to be a lot more rewarding.

Stigma of a young, single parent.

Another challenge I faced is the stigma that comes with being not only a single parent, but a young single parent. Even in college, there are those individuals who will try to discourage you and make you feel less of a person than they are because of the decisions you’ve made. I learned to use those people as motivation to do my best and be accomplished because proving them wrong is one of the greatest feelings.

Support is all around.

There is support all around at Front Range Community College and you just have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to find it. The Single Parent Program that is offered at the Larimer Campus is a great opportunity to take advantage of and get involved in.

Working on campus is also a good opportunity. I have held three different work study positions on campus. Through that, I have developed a great work ethic, made new connections, and I have the chance to provide for myself and my son, while still having time to enjoy the college experience. Take advantage of opportunities before it is too late.

How I balance it all.

There are a few ways I have kept the balance of being a parent and a student going. Because it is hard to focus on my son and my studies at the same time, I take time to study when he is busy, asleep, or when I have free time during the week. I have also had to push aside other things to put him and my schooling first. Whether it’s been skipping a night out with friends or turning off my favorite show to focus, I have found a way to balance my life as a full-time student and full-time parent and that is why I have been successful at Front Range Community College.

Having a child early doesn’t mean I have to put my life on hold; it simply means I must include him in my plan. To all the parents who are trying to balance parenthood with schooling, I hope you find your rhythm because we all have our own.

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