Student Parent Support Symposium
On May 28-30, 2014, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s ACCESS Collaborative Program hosted the 10th annual Student Parent Support Symposium: “Babies, Diapers & Diplomas: Supporting Those Who Support Student Parents in Higher Education.” This nationally-acclaimed event brought together some 80 participants, including 34 presenters, who came to discuss best practices, challenges, program models, and collaboration with community resources when working with single parents, low-income parents, and their families and promoting support services in higher education for these unique populations. This year’s symposium was co-sponsored by Community Properties of Ohio and Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing as well as The Ohio State University’s Women’s Place and College of Social Work.
Since 2005, the ACCESS Student Parent Support Symposium has provided a network and means of collaboration for new and existing programs and universities interested in learning how to better serve their student parent populations. In addition to the general and concurrent sessions, another highlight was the luncheon presentation of the inaugural Student Parent Professional Achievement Award. The award, which recognizes and honors those who are working to break the cycle of generational poverty by encouraging and supporting student parents to strive and achieve their goals, was given to Donna A. James, managing director of Larson & Associates LLC, a business management consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio. Ms. James, a champion of pregnant and parenting teens and their children, is also the founder of the Center for Healthy Families and the current co-chair of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force. The luncheon also featured keynote speaker, Gloria Perez, president and CEO of the Jeremiah Program of San Antonio, Texas, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization that supports single mothers and their children succeed by providing affordable housing, quality early-childhood education, life skills training, and support for career-track education.
The ACCESS Collaborative Program, which was established in 1989, was developed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to help single-parent students (both male and female) with full custody of their children earn an undergraduate degree at Ohio State and secure employment. ACCESS provides programming on parenting and life skills, child development, and financial planning; scholarship opportunities; mentoring; professional development; and evening child care. By minimizing the barriers that may prevent these students’ full participation, ACCESS works to create a campus climate that is inclusive for all.
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