|Volume 32, Issue 7
||November 28, 2005
AGAINST ALL ODDS
Logos photo by Benjamin J. Buck
Benjamin J. Buck
Stephanie Dye, a 28 year-old non-traditional student at NIACC, has motivation for obtaining a degree in criminal justice that many students do not have - two children. That motivation for Dye has been taken a step further as she is raising nine-year old Drake and seven-year old Tyler on her own.
"No job or class will ever test your abilities like raising children and going to school at the same time," Dye said. "It's just one of those things you can't learn in the classroom."
Just "one of those things" is having a tremendous impact on today's society, as the U.S. Census Bureau released a statement that said 34% of the poverty-stricken families, which means living on an income of $15,260 or less for a family of three, are families headed by a single woman without a husband present.
Dye's story is just one of many single mothers who buck the odds placed against them.
Originally from Iowa, Dye moved to Wyoming at the age of ten with her mom, sister and brother. Her parents divorced before the move and that's when, according to Dye, things in her life got tough.
"The situation of my mom not being able to work and myself expected to help with things around the house is when things started to get bad," Dye said. "Those difficulties then transferred to school, my grades suffered and I got into the bad crowd."
Things really got difficult when just three months after her eighteenth birthday, Dye found out she was pregnant with her first child Drake and had to give up a full-ride scholarship to the University of Minnesota where she planned to study law.
Giving up on a free education, going through a divorce from her first child's father and a separation of a six-year relationship with her second child's father, Dye said she contemplated a move back to her home state to free herself from the tension.
She then made up her mind, packed her bags and moved to Clear Lake, Iowa, to start a new life with her children.
"When you are trying to accomplish something, it's better to separate from all the drama," Dye said. "It was just too much stress being in that kind of situation and I relieved some of that by moving here."
When looking at her schedule from waking up at 6 a.m. to get her children up and ready for school, to going to bed at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. after studying and doing homework, Dye said she sometimes wonders how she does it.
"Every day is a marathon," Dye said. "But whenever I think about giving up, I just look at my two boys. They are my motivation."
And that motivation is what many other single mothers may need, as the U.S. government reported on October 28, 2005, that more than 1.5 million babies were born to unmarried mothers - a record high.
In an October 28 report from the Associated Press, Stephanie Ventura, of the National Center for Health Statistics, said, "People have the impression that teens and unmarried mothers are synonymous."
However, teens only accounted for 24 percent of unwed births, which was down from 50 percent in 1970. The most notable increases have been women in their 20's, particularly those 25 to 29, according to Ventura.
NIACC President Dr. Michael Morrison said that in order to counter-act those figures, which usually leads to a lower quality of life, single mothers need to obtain the highest education available.
"The key thing to understand if you want to improve your quality of life is to pursue a degree and get it," Morrison said. "That is the most important thing they can do."
Dr. Karen Pierson, vice president of Student Services, said that the motivation of the single mothers is a kind of motivation that traditional students do not have.
"That voice is already there," Pierson said about the trait that single mothers possess. "They want to be a good role model to their kids and create a better life for them which they might not have had."
Tom Oswald, an adjunct instructor at NIACC and an individual who has been working with young people for over 40 years, said he has taught "many" single mothers in his day.
"The numbers of single mothers has gone up and the load has increased as well," Oswald said. "But the important thing is to encourage them in seeking their goal because every hour of credit they get in college, it's getting them that much closer to the long-range goal."
Even though NIACC does not keep any statistics on single mothers at NIACC, Pierson said there are many services available to them such as financial aid, counselors, tutors; all of which will help the individual succeed.
As times may get tough for Dye and many other college students, she offered a piece of advice that she suggests everyone, not just single mothers, should live by.
"Everybody, at some point, feels like giving up," Dye said. "You just have to remember that when times do get tough, it's not going to be like that forever."
Morrison said that he is very proud of the single mothers who buck the odds against them by attending college and pursuing a better life.
"My heart goes out to them," Morrison said. "With all the extra burdens they face of being a single mom and going to school full-time, it takes a lot of courage."
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