Single moms studying

By David Pollard

There are many types of students of all backgrounds who come to NIU to create a future for themselves. When the thought of the typical college student comes to mind you might think of a carefree young person going to class, studying and doing whatever else he or she would like to do.

There are other types of students and one that may have been overlooked is young single mothers on campus. These are young women who became pregnant in their teen years and are either keeping their children with them here in DeKalb or going to school while their parents take care of the child.

Michelle Conner is an 18 year-old freshman living in Stevenson South. She has a one year-old son named Darquis that is being taken care of by her parents.

“I already decided to go to school after I had my baby,” she said. Conner was 16 when she got pregnant and 17 when she had her child. She said after she had the child her mother agreed to take care of the child while she went to school. “I was thinking about bringing the child to school but my mom said I needed to study,” she said.

Conner said she visits her son often and does not have a problem with being away from him for long periods of time. She said it is tough to leave him behind when she spends weekends with him. “I try to spend as much time as I can with my child when I visit him on the weekend,” she said.

When put in this situation of being away from her child and having to concentrate on studies Conner said, “It can be done but it takes a lot of self-discipline.”

She said that her child is a big influence in her working hard to stay in school. “More people say it’s their parents, but I say it’s my baby,” she added.

“He’s been a part of my life for so long it’s like a hand. It’s just there,” said Angie Madison a 23 year-old senior at NIU and a single mother.

Madison has an 8 year-old son named Andre. She has been going to NIU, has been raising her son here for four years, is majoring in business marketing and she is a full-time student.

Before coming to NIU she attended Bradley University in Peoria in the fall of 84‘. She left Bradley and worked for a year so that she could afford to take care of her child when she brought him to NIU in the fall of 85′.

Madison had no problems going to school because when she had classes her child was usually in class. She said, “When I’m in school, he’s in school.”

She attributes financial aid and loans to helping her out with her finances because she does not work but she said her parents help her also.

Madison said she is happy that she brought her child to school with her because, “When I was at Bradley and he was at home I had a hard time dealing with it.”

She tries to spend as much quality time with her son as possible. “I try to spend some quality time (with her child) but you also need to get some studying in. We just do little things together,” she said, adding that as long as they are doing things together that is enough.

When it comes to going to school and taking care of a child, Madison said, “Anybody can do it. It takes a lot of patience. I need an education and I need to provide for myself and my son.”

She will be graduating in August of 1990 and plans to be a buyer for a retail clothing company.

Tracey Bonds is a second year sophomore and is a pre-education major. It was just a year ago at this time that she brought her six-month-old daughter Laurie to NIU.

Bonds became pregnant when she was a senior in high school but graduated on time and was in the top 10 percent of her class.

She said it is not easy but “you have to be serious about your work. If you don’t have any responsibilities you put things off. When you do have a strict schedule, you have to get things done.”

Bonds said that her baby keeps her in line and on the right track as far as studying. “Of the time I have free—she gets my first priority,” she added.

She said, “I’ve always been a good student and she (baby) doesn’t affect my work but it makes it harder for me to blow things off.”

Bonds said she does not encourage kids to follow in her footsteps by getting pregnant early and bringing that child along to college. She said, “It can be done, but it’s not for everybody. It’s better than sitting back and becoming a welfare statistic, but you have to want to do it.”