Innovation and creativity are two very important aspects of a new program that is highly encouraged at my current institution. These two characteristics are what helped me develop a new program for students with children. This program, if you have been following along with previous posts, is called Parent Mavericks and has now finished its first year! It has been an exciting adventure working with a new group of students that I had never worked with before and learning more about the life of a student who is also a parent.
I remember when I first was told about the Next Generation Initiatives (NGI) contest and how I thought that even if I had an idea, I would not make it to the next step, but then I did. I knew it was going to be hard, but that is where teamwork makes the dream work. (This program would not have been able to function as well without the help of my team!) If I learned anything about the profession through this initiative, it’s that collaboration, communication, and confidence are what is needed. Take these as my three C’s for Success if you would, because that is exactly what helped me be successful with this endeavor. I communicated often, collaborated as much as possible, and I was confident in myself and the events my team and I put on for our student parents. Communication sometimes faltered a bit and so did collaboration, but it was our first year, so I expected that to happen. Besides, I am only human and am therefore not perfect, but I did make the best of every situation. To me, what really matters is not that everything went perfect down to the most minuscule of details, but that my students had a good a time and were able to build connections. From what I can tell from the Facebook comments, that is exactly what happened.
We recently had our final event, Parent Mavericks at the MAC, and are about to start a final round of assessment before the team meets up to review our students’ feedback. At our event, student parents, their children, and their partners were encouraged to attend. We had several activities including, but not limited to: face painting, bounce house, photo buttons, and Child Identification kits. We also were able to get some pretty cool shirts for everyone to wear too! It was one of my favorite events. Afterwards, it was bittersweet. I was excited to finish the semester, but I am sad that I have to pass the torch on to someone else. I enjoyed getting to know my Parent Mavericks and providing them with community.
All I have left to say is that I will definitely miss my Parent Mavericks and I hope that my successor takes very good care of this program. I hope my notes and recommendations help, but I also hope that my team and my successor take this group to a whole new level and continue to defy the taboo of being a student and a parent.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Marsha Herman-Betzen on A Story of a Life in SA