Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Single mother struggles with living on Southeast campus

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

**Editor's note: Due to the sensitivity of this subject the source does not want to be named for this report.**

Southeast junior Jane Smith, 31, is majoring in social work and minoring in communications disorders. Smith suffers from anxiety, has a hard time focusing and does not like crowded rooms. She’s also a full-time student and maintains a 3.4 grade point average while supporting four-children.

Smith has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and claustrophobia. She said she has to work to control her impulsive thoughts and behaviors when it comes to her school work and her children.

“The stress of having children and attending school can take a toll on you financially, and

the most difficult thing about being a single parent while attending college is the expense of child care,” Smith said.

“The anxiety, physical and mental issues that I deal with daily will not stop me from accomplishing my goals in school,” Smith said.

Smith has experienced being physically violated in the past by people whom she trusted, including family members. She had to be removed from the home each time she experienced those horrific events. It’s a story that is way too common that children experience, only to be placed in state custody if no family member is willing to step in.

Smith had to be admitted to a treatment center when she was 11.

“I start hanging with the wrong people and picking up the wrong habits. Those habits landed me in a treatment center,” Smith said.

When Smith turned 13, she was able to be a part of the decision about who would become her legal guardian.

“My aunt decided that I could come live with her, go to school and get my life on track,”

Smith said.

Through legal proceedings a court order was granted, giving custody of Smith to her aunt.

“That moment when my aunt decided to take care of me changed my life and who I am as a woman today, because I was on the wrong path in life,” Smith said.

“The physical, mental and emotional abuse that I’ve dealt with has contributed to some of my problems,” Smith said.

Smith said her full-time school and parenting schedule causes her to lose sleep at night, and this causes her to miss class sometimes. Next semester she will retake a course required for her major because she couldn’t keep up with the schedule.

“You must have good time management, which is a huge factor when balancing parenting and school,” Smith said.

Smith said being a nontraditional student in addition to living with disabilities makes things even more challenging.

“I would say that people who are not parents do not understand the real-life struggles of making ends meet while pursuing an education. I have to choose sometimes between studying for a midterm test and finding a way to keep the lights on for my family,” Smith said.

“I am generally late and have points deducted for being late for classes, but I continuously put one foot in front of the other. I keep telling myself that to make a change, the sacrifices must be worth it and my education will help me to become a better parent and individual.”