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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State student parents manage responsibilities and kids while going to school full-time

Makenzie Miller

Near the beginning of her junior year at Wichita State, Jada Escobar found out she was pregnant. She knew raising kids while also being a full-time student would be a test of her time management and resilience.

“I kind of spent the whole time from the beginning of junior year really trying to get as much work done as I could,” Escobar said.

When Escobar’s son was born in April 2022, she took the remainder of the semester off from school. Now nine months pregnant with her second child and back at Wichita State, Escobar is balancing being a parent to her 18-month-old while getting ready to do the whole process over again.

“I’m doing the best work that I can give right now, up until I’m due,” Escobar said. “And then I’ll go on probably a four-week maternity leave … and then I’ll just jump right back into school.”

The challenge of being a student parent is one that Jennifer Haydon willingly took on when she re-enrolled in college.

Haydon graduated high school in 2006 but says when she came to Wichita State for the first time, she “partied right out of school.” She dropped out, joined the army at age 20, and, while stationed in Iraq, took some college classes online at Butler Community College.

After returning to the United States, she finished her degree in secondary education before changing her mind about teaching and re-enrolling at Wichita State in English literature in fall of 2019.

With a 10 and 4-year-old in the household, Haydon took another break from school during the COVID-19 pandemic to homeschool her two kids. Now finally back in college for good, she said the responsibilities of raising her kids while taking classes can be overwhelming.

“My husband says I have these ‘nerd breakdowns,’ as he calls it, whenever I’m worried about due dates,” Haydon said. “But I think it’s just all part of it because there’s not going to be enough time.”

Lyndsey Stang completed her fine arts degree from Wichita State in 2014 while raising two toddlers. Now, she’s re-enrolled in graphic design while still parenting her now-three kids.

“I definitely feel like since I’ve done it before, I can prioritize things a lot better,” Stang said. “And it’s not the end of the world if it’s not perfect. If you don’t get the best grade but you at least try.”

Managing due dates and schedules is of the utmost importance for student parents. Stang and Escobar both said they have planners to help manage their days.

“I make a lot of lists,” Stang said. “It helps me keep me on track. I give myself a certain amount of hours a day to work on certain projects, and I try to leave the weekends for fun. I’m a nerd, so you have to have some fun in there.”

Escobar is a first-generation student. She says that before having a kid, she struggled with time management. Being a parent forced her to change that.

“I think finding out that I was pregnant really lit a fire under me,” Escobar said. “All of a sudden I had to figure out what my life was going to look like. I knew, being a first-generation student, all the hard work that it took for me to even be here and be in college, I was going to need five times more of that to stay here … But I was very determined to do that.”

Haydon explained that routines help keep her family organized and on time.

“My main thing right now is trying to teach (my children) to be self-sufficient,” Haydon said. “We have a checklist … There’s just making sure there’s a system for things, like they have to have their clothes ready for school the day before.”

Escobar, Stang and Haydon are all married. They talked about how their husbands and families help them manage their mental health and children.

“I’ll get into those moments where I’m a bit overwhelmed, and I have no idea what to do,” Escobar said. “My husband is able to kind of bring me down and be like, ‘Okay, one step at a time.’”

Stang said her parents also provided support while she balanced school and her family.

“My parents helped a ton,” Stang said. “When my oldest was little, she wasn’t in school yet, so they would have to have her while I went to school. So definitely, if I didn’t have them, it wouldn’t have been as easy as it was.”

All three student parents also said they appreciate professors who empathize with the difficulties of their situations.

“I’ve been in McKnight for a while now, and I’ve been working with the same professors for the last three years, so they know me pretty well,” Escobar said. “They have been really amazing … just having professors there that are like, ‘We’re here to support you, whatever you need.’”

Haydon said that Kerry Jones, the director of the Writing Center, motivated her to stay in college during a time period when, in the midst of caring for her aging parents, she was considering dropping out.

“She was like, ‘You’re not allowed to quit. I will literally drag you across the graduation stage if I have to,’” Haydon said.

Escobar said she gets frustrated that people assume she is irresponsible and going to fail because she has a kid.

“Especially somebody like me, who’s a first-generation Hispanic student, a lot of my family and my parents automatically assume that I might drop out of college,” Escobar said. “But a lot of them were surprised that I am still here, and I’m still working hard and trying to get that degree and walk across the stage.”

Escobar said that she’s motivated to stay in college to show that it can be done.

“There’s really no reason why having kids and having a life outside of school should stop you from being able to walk across the stage,” Escobar said. “A lot of being a parent is knowing that you have somebody under you looking up at you. And one day, they’re going to ask you how you did it, and I just didn’t want my answer to be that I just couldn’t do it anymore, that it was too hard.”

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh, Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a reporter for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Makenzie Miller, Photographer
Makenzie Miller is a first year animation major and a first year illustrator/photographer on the Sunflower. She is from Eureka, Kansas and enjoys not only art, but also cartoons, videos games, softball, and literally any type of animal. They hope to one day be a storyboarder/concept artist for an animation company. Miller uses she/they pronouns.

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