Humboldt State University

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Child Development student, Melissa Duartes, works to raise awareness of the needs of student parents and their families

Melissa Duarte

HSU Child Development undergraduate Melissa Duarte, juggles far more than your average college student. As a mother of a toddler, Duarte faces many challenges in her everyday life. Nevertheless, she perseveres, finding balance between being a student and being a parent while simultaneously advocating for resources to help support students in similar situations. “I want to support other student parents. That is why I want to be a part of Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI),” Duarte says.

Student Parent Success Initiative is an advocacy group on campus that focuses on supporting students with children who are pursuing a higher education. Beginning in 2014, by Child Development graduates Kayla Masengale and Kathy Yiyue, the initiative has since focused on promoting academic and family success by providing information on local resources in Humboldt County, giving updates on current events happening at HSU, and creating a space for student parents to take part in self-care and network with other HSU community members. Their primary goal is to raise awareness of the needs of student parents and their families.

Duarte, Child Development student Bethany Phelps, and Sociology Graduate student Carly Strand, are taking lead this semester with their involvement in a research project for SPSI. The project aims to quantify the number of student parents on campus and to understand faculty, staff, and student perspectives on HSU student parents. Collectively, they are working on a survey to send out campus wide. The hope is to emphasize the importance of recognizing the needs and challenges of student parents so that their academic endeavors can be supported.

“I used to be very hesitant in sharing with people on campus that I am a parent because I feared that I would not be taken seriously as a student. People wouldn’t be able to see me as a professional. Now I understand after hearing from other student parents that sharing is important. And we need to know how many student parents are here on campus so that we can advocate for resources,” Duarte shares. 

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