BREAKOUT GROUP: Elevating Parents In College: Fostering Success For Mason's Student-Parents

  • Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon George Mason University
  • Heather Aleknavage George Mason University
  • Jennifer Pocai George Mason University

Abstract

Session LOCATION: George's (3rd floor of Johnson Center)

Student-parents are often overlooked as a distinct, high-need student population in higher education. As a result, faculty may be unaware of structural barriers impacting student-parents in their courses, from course policies to student access of campus services and resources, and how Title IX policies apply to pregnant and parenting students in higher education. Student-parents are often overlooked as a distinct, high-need student population in higher education. As a result, faculty may be unaware of structural barriers impacting student-parents in their courses, from course policies to student access of campus services and resources, and how Title IX policies apply to pregnant and parenting students in higher education. In this breakout discussion, faculty will be challenged to consider student-parents as a distinct high-need student population, and that Mason can do more to support our student-parents both inside and outside of the classroom. Participants will learn from Masonâs student-parent population and identify supports, needs, and resource gaps. Faculty will receive an overview of services and resources available for student-parents at Mason, a primer on Title IX as it pertains to pregnant and parenting students, discuss strategies to enhance equity for student-parents, and review best practices to build student-parent social capital and accessibility. Faculty will also hear from current student-parents on the challenges they face in balancing education and parenthood, and how faculty can help our student-parents thrive at Mason.

Author Biographies

Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, George Mason University

Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon has over twenty years of experience in program design and implementation spanning college and career readiness; post-secondary equity, access, and success; guided pathways, international recruitment, and experiential learning across K-12, nonprofit, and post-secondary settings. She was the founding director and operational designer of the Pathway to the Baccalaureate and Elevating Parents in College programs, award-winning K-16 college access models with exceptional outcomes in transfer completion for underrepresented populations in higher education. At Masonâs College of Science, Hilker-Balkissoon leads the college's efforts to create curricular, navigational, career, and global STEM pathways, building innovative institutional and community partnerships and programming to enhance equity in undergraduate and graduate STEM enrollment, completion, and career attainment.

Heather Aleknavage, George Mason University

Heather been working at George Mason University for 18 years, and took her first class as a non-degree student in the Fall of 2017! She is now in the MAIS, Higher Education program, and plans to pursue a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies as part of my interdisciplinary curriculum. Heather is interested in non-traditional students, especially the student-parent population, as well as experiential learning and career readiness. During her time at Mason, she has served in multiple roles, including the College of Arts and Sciences Deanâs Office, the College of Education and Human Development, student services office, and she is currently the office manager for the Office of Sponsored Programs, which serves the university research community. In addition to her positions at Mason, Heather created the Support Group for Working Moms at Mason, an informal group of Mason employees who strive for balance with their multiple roles of worker, partner, caregiver, and student. She also serves on the University Quality of Work Life Task Force, and the Student-Parent Working Group. Prior to Mason, Heather was the Director of Catering for River Bend Golf and Country Club and was awarded âBest Themed Event of the Yearâ by the National Association of Catering Executives for the clubâs Y2K New Yearâs Eve gala.

Jennifer Pocai, George Mason University

Jennifer Pocai is a graduate student in George Mason University's Masterâs in Interdisciplinary Studies program with a Concentration in Higher Education. Jennifer previously earned a Bachelor of Individualized Study with a Concentration in Higher Education Administration from George Mason. Jennifer has worked in higher education since 2011. Her latest position was Initiative Manager for Northern Virginia Community Collegeâs Elevating Parents in College (EPIC). EPIC seeks to ensure that parents who face barriers to college access and persistence are provided with the resources and support necessary to be successful utilizing a holistic dual-generational model. Jenniferâs graduate studies have focused on the experience of low-income single mothers in community college. Her research centers around the unique challenges these students encounter and promising practices for overcoming them. Jennifer also volunteered as a Sponsor for Generation Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to the higher education of teen parents.

Published
2019-08-01
Section
2:45-4:15pm Special Session: Conversations About Supporting Diverse Students