The completion of a doctoral degree requires persistence and the ability to balance multiple responsibilities; for students who are also parents, the skill of balancing responsibilities becomes crucial. A large part of this balancing act is juggling “another life — another little person that comes with her own personality and her own needs,” explained Amilee Turner, a single mom and fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas (KU).
Amilee became a mother during the second year of her graduate program. She described the subsequent search for childcare as an “emotional overload.” As a native of Lawrence, Kan. she felt that she had a leg up when it came to finding options in the area, but she still faced challenges. “For me, it was more about trust and feeling like I’m taking my child somewhere safe. You want them to be happy and comfortable.” Fortunately, Amilee found Hilltop Child Development Center, KU’s affiliated childcare facility. After enrollment, Amilee was made aware of Hilltop’s partnership with the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs’ (CEOP) to provide KU students-parents with a scholarship program, Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS). “When I found out [about CCAMPIS], I was in disbelief,” she admitted.
CCAMPIS is a pivotal part of Amilee and her daughter’s educational experience at KU. As a part of the program, Amilee participates in parenting workshops at Hilltop, that covers topics such as sleep training and child nutrition. “I don’t think there is any such thing as a perfect parent but as a mom, you still do try to be one. The workshops help me grow as a parent and give me more skills and knowledge.” CCAMPIS also provides financial supports through a Hilltop tuition scholarships, as well as academic supports, individual advising, and networking opportunities. Amilee knows first-hand the value of getting involved; she regularly attends the social events for the student-parent community at KU which are hosted by CCAMPIS and urges other student-parents to get involved. “The student-parent community here is growing and there are people working for you to help get you what you need and complete your degree.”
As she nears the completion of her own degree, Amilee emphasized that her child is a “really big motivating force.” As she works on her dissertation and approaches the finish line, envisioning her family’s future is what keeps her going: “I hope this degree will take us to new places.”