“A breathe area” is how Manuel García, a staff member at UC Berkeley’s Student Parent Center and sixth-semester student parent, described the quaint center tucked within the Transfer Center.
At first inhabiting the role of a Women’s Resource Center, it was not until the late 1980s that the program director at the time, Alice Jordan, changed it to the Student Parent Center seen today. With a focus on providing support and community for campus student parents, the Student Parent Center, or SPC, is home to about 250 graduate and undergraduate students along with their children, who range from babies to adults in their 30s.
Program director Tomie Lenear described the role of the SPC in the community.
“Academic and parental-status are harmonized, not compromised,” Lenear said in an email.
The SPC does not provide direct child care services, yet scholarships and resources such as the Student Parent Grant, Zachary Cruz Memorial Scholarship, SPC internship program and SPC 198 transition course all aid new student parents in transitioning onto campus.
They also host guest speakers and family events such as Thanksgiving gatherings, picnics and monthly luncheons.
“When newly admitted student parents begin to struggle with campus rigor, a good portion of them come to us in crisis, only to be uplifted by not only our resources, but the power of student-parent empathy and compassion for their hardships,” Lenear said. “Once they transcend this moment, I see those same students go on to be some of our greatest student leaders on campus.”
García recently served as a student helper alongside Student Parent Success counselor and student parent alumna Anita Adams in hosting a Midterm Care Package Event that ran for three days this week.
More than 50 care packages were made, containing school supplies, snacks and books for student parents to bring home to their children. García described the smile on one student parent’s face after traveling a long distance to receive a care package for her child.
“We help each other,” García said. “It wasn’t until I came here physically that I felt like a student at Berkeley.”
Adams noted that the packages are “a small symbol” acknowledging that student parents are trying their best and are not alone. The packages serve as a showing of support, Adams added.
Lenear called on UC Berkeley students to avoid making assumptions about people who receive services from the SPC.
“These students are bearing the weight of not only campus rigor, but parental rigor as well,” Lenear said. “Ask them what their specific needs are and work within campus, state and federal guidelines to ensure they receive the same UC Berkeley experience as all other students — just in a different way.”