Makenna Richard

Makena Richard with her son

Written by Selina Dunbar, Advancement Intern

Upon first glance, Makenna Richard seems quiet and shy, but there is more to her than meets the eye.

Makenna is a junior psychology major from Canton, Ohio. She is also a YSP Scholar at The Ohio State University.

Makenna is everything one would imagine a college student to be: she gets good grades, enjoys playing soccer and reading, and cherishes opportunities to indulge in new experiences such as attending concerts and other school sponsored events.

However, Makenna is also a mother. Not only is she a mother to a beautiful four-year-old boy, but she is currently six months pregnant with her second child. So not only is Makenna an expecting mom, but she was pregnant with her first child before her freshman year of college. This means that the odds were greatly against her, and they still are.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 40% of teen mothers finish high school, and young women who give birth while attending college are 65% less likely to complete their degree than other women who do not have children during that time.

Despite this, Makenna has successfully made it to her junior year at Ohio State. She credits this, in part, to ACCESS Collaborative, an academic and social support program located in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion that assists low-income, single parent students who are pursuing a college education at Ohio State.

More than anything, Makenna says ACCESS has provided “a strong backbone of women and support.” Through this program she has learned about opportunities on campus such as scholarships and has participated in mentoring groups with other student-parents at Ohio State. She is also a mentor to high school students through CHAMPS, a comprehensive mentoring program between Ohio State single-parent students and Columbus area high school parenting or pregnant teens.

Even with the presence of ACCESS, there have been challenges for Makenna. She admits that she doesn’t know a lot of people outside of ACCESS. “There is definitely a lack of friendships; sometimes I can’t take advantage of all opportunities, but it’s not the worst thing,” says Makenna. More than anything, these challenges allow her to stay focus and determined.

Most importantly, Makenna Richard has a plan. Academically, she promises to never take a break. “I want to be steady,” she says. This means after completing her undergraduate degree, Richard will seek a master’s degree and a PhD. She also wants to maintain a healthy relationship with her family. As a parent, she will always ensure that her children are taken care of and happy.

The ultimate message that Makenna wants people to take away from her is “not everyone is a traditional college student, but we are no different or less than them [traditional college students]. Ultimately, we all have a journey,” and Makenna Richard seems to be enjoying hers.