“Never forget your priorities.”

Single mothers in college seek balance

Being a mom is a full-time job, but some women have to balance parenthood with college, jobs, sports and other activities.

Ariel Bartram, a nursing major at Marshall University, balances being a single mother to a 4-year-old and working two jobs more than six days a week with getting an education.

“There literally are not enough hours in the day sometimes,” Bartram said. “I contemplate dropping out all the time because it’s just so much. But all I have to do is look at my son, and I find the motivation I need to keep going. I want my son to have a better life than I did, he deserves it.”

Kenna Coughenour, sophomore, is in the same boat as far as her schedule goes.

“No one without a child knows how stressful it is to have to try to do homework while raising a 2-year-old without any help,” Coughenour said. “It makes everything so much harder. Teachers don’t always understand that I have to prioritize things in a way that my daughter always comes first. If she’s sick, I have to miss class and take care of her. I honestly have no other options.”

A new mother to a 2-week-old boy is learning how to balance being a college athlete and student along with being a full-time mom.

Talequia Hamilton, senior and a player on Marshall’s women’s basketball team, is picking up how to have good time management.

“Dropping out has never been an option for me,” Hamilton said. “My motivation comes from my son. I didn’t have a lot growing up, and I want him to have all the things I didn’t have. Finishing school is the first step in doing that.”

The mothers agree they have had to sacrifice things in order to maintain time for the things they have to.

“If there’s one thing I’ve had to sacrifice. It’s been my social life,” Bartram said. “I mean, I don’t even have a social life anymore. It’s almost out of the question for me. I’m lucky enough to work with my friends, so that’s about all the fun I get anymore.”

Coughenour said she agrees there are some sacrifices that have to be made.

“Sometimes, I’ll be studying for a test, and my daughter comes in crying and wants me to hold her and watch cartoons, so that’s what we do. We go sit on the couch and we watch cartoons,” Coughenour said. “That’s part of being a mom. My daughter will always come first.”

Jara Kiser, a student at Mountwest Community and Technical College, is dealing with being a full-time pregnant student.

“I’m really nervous. I mean, college is hard, and being pregnant is even harder,” Kiser said. “Balancing both, that’s going to take a lot of determination, but it’s something I have to do.”

Erica Belville is also a student at MCTC and a new mother.

“I want so much out of life, but mostly I want to do whatever’s best for my daughter,” Belville said. “My life’s changed, but I do everything I do for not only myself but for my daughter.”

Belville said she has sacrificed a lot of her social life.

“Having a social life is a little more difficult with having friends who don’t have children,” Belville said.

The mothers said they will push through school and get an education, no matter how hard it may seem at the time.

“Advice to future moms, don’t give up,” Bartram said. “It’s hard now, but those part time jobs and long hours at work are only temporary. Dropping out of school is a permanent loss.”

Coughenour said she agrees with Bartram’s statement.

“She’s 100 percent right,” Coughenour said. “Never forget your priorities. I have to work and make my own money, but my daughter and schooling comes first, regardless.”

Hamilton also agrees with Bartram’s statement and thinks there are other ways to make getting through school easier.

“Never drop out,” Hamilton said. “Even when it gets hard, just always try to go to class and attempt to do the work. Try to take online classes, those really help out in the end.”

Karima Neghmouche can be contacted at [email protected].