What’s a professor to do?

A great professorIf you haven’t seen this image yet, you may be wondering why this professor is teaching with a child in his arms. Well, here’s the backstory:

“So one of the students came with her kid, because she didn’t have a babysitter. the kid starts to cry in the middle of the class, so his mom, all embarrassed gets up to leave, and the professor took the kid from her, calmed him and continued teaching.”

According to comments below the post, this man is Dr. Sydney Engelberg of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

What an awesome professor! He didn’t question or chastise this mom for her effort to both parent and pursue her education. Instead, he embraced her efforts– and her child! What would our college campuses look like if our universities encouraged this welcoming attitude towards pregnant and parenting students?

Some would suggest that such an effort would be chaos– madness, even! We’d be opening our universities to the rowdy whims of precocious minions and distracting entire classes of hard working students.

Now, let’s not get crazy! I’m not expecting professors to suddenly throw open their doors to welcome in herds of students’ children and to wipe the snot off of every crying toddler’s face. But there are practical ways that universities can and should accommodate pregnant and parenting students.

Enter Title IX.

You may know about Title IX and how it protects pregnant and parenting students, and if you do, I commend you! Too often, students are unaware that this legislation supports the efforts of pregnant and parenting students. For those in the dark, here’s a quick refresher on Title IX accommodations for pregnant and parenting students:

(Source: Pregnant and Parenting Students’ Rights, National Women’s Law Center)

  • Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex – including pregnancy, parenting and all related conditions – in educational programs and activities that get federal funding. This means that schools must give all students who might be, are, or have been pregnant the same access to school programs and educational opportunities that other students have.
  • Your school must excuse your absences due to pregnancy or any related conditions for as long as your doctor says it is necessary for you to be absent. This is true even if there is no leave policy for students with other conditions. When you return to school, you must be reinstated to the status you held before your leave. The school can require you to submit a doctor’s note from you only if that is required of students with other medical conditions.”
  • You cannot be penalized for pregnancy or related conditions. If a professor provides specific ‘points’ or other advantages to students based on class attendance, you must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes you miss due to pregnancy, so that you can be reinstated to the status you held before you took leave.”
  • Your school must let you make up the work you missed while you were out due to pregnancy or any related conditions, including recovery from childbirth… your school has to provide you with the appropriate assignments and information to make up all of the work you would have been required to complete while you were out. For an extended absence, it is best if your school provides you with the work you miss regularly, so you do not fall far behind.”
  • Title IX requires that schools provide pregnant students with any special services they provide to students with temporary disabilities. If students with temporary disabilities get at-home tutoring to help them keep up with work they miss when absent, the school must provide students who miss class because of pregnancy or childbirth with the same benefit.”
  • Schools cannot terminate or reduce athletic, merit or need-based scholarships based on pregnancy. If you stay in school, you can keep your scholarship.”

change Your campus

23% of college students are parenting, and less than 1 in 10 students with children complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of college entry. Let’s help make their dreams of a college degree a bit easier. Here’s what we can do:

Together, we can make a difference!


This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. For more information about the Pregnant on Campus Initiative and how you can get involved, please contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org.

Photographer captures beauty of homeless pregnant women

One look at Keri Vaca’s Small Miracles Photography website is all you need to testify to this woman’s talent for capturing the “intimate raw spontaneous” moments of family life. In one glance, you are captured by beautiful family life images and encouraged by captions of  “celebrate your baby bump!” and “growing a human inside of you is a super power.”

Even more so, Keri clearly identifies with moms and their struggles to see themselves as beautiful. She shares: “From my own personal experience, getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and delivering a baby is quite the journey. There are so many ups and downs. I did not feel beautiful when I was pregnant. When I look back at my maternity photos, I see that I was. I want to show you, how beautiful you are, regardless of how you might feel in your new body.

Now, Keri is giving back in a big way! The Californian photographer shared her artistic talents with women supported by the Homeless Prenatal Program, and the *results will leave you speechless.

Keri surely succeeded in helping these women feel as beautiful as they are!

Martha Ryan, the founder of Homeless Prenatal, affirmed Vaca’s creative gift. “She is making sure the women know they’re beautiful and they’re deserving.”

Nancy Frappier, who directs the program’s Wellness Center, also supported Keri’s effort. She shared with Today“For many of the women we work with, pregnancy can be a wonderful time but also a very difficult and challenging time. Seeing how they look in the pictures has been an incredibly positive experience for the women. They see how strong and beautiful they look as pregnant women, and it gives them a boost of self-confidence that they can be good parents.”

Thank you, Keri, for embracing the beauty of these lovely ladies!


*Please note: These images are the work of Keri Vaca, Small Miracles Photography. To learn more about Keri’s work, please visit her website, http://www.smallmiraclesphoto.com/.

This blog was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. To share your story, please contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org.


Carolina SFL awards 2 $500 Parenting Students Scholarships

Carolina SFL- LOGOOne of the most common challenges for pregnant and parenting students is finances. Balancing a college tuition with the costs of child care bear heavily on a young woman’s decision to make a life-affirming pregnancy decision. However, the tide is turning, and we are witnessing an increasing number of student groups organizing scholarships and assistance funds for pregnant and parenting students.

Enter Carolina Students for Life.

This year, Carolina Students for Life offered two $500 Parenting Students Scholarship to parenting students in need of financial support, and their applicant pool was larger than ever with over 15 students vying for the scholarships.

Even after 5 years of their Parenting Students Scholarship, the group is confident that it continues to be a worthy and needed project. “The reason why we continue to offer it is that it is one of the really concrete ways that we can really help parenting students,” stated Josh, a recent graduate and student leader of Carolina Students for Life. “Getting an undergraduate degree, especially if it’s one at a university as prestigious as UNC, goes a long way toward financial stability, and we want to help make it a viable choice to parents.”

We asked Josh to tell us more about this great project. Here’s what he had to share!

What are the eligibility requirements for the scholarship?

“To be eligible to receive the fund, one has to be a student at UNC Chapel Hill, either graduate or undergrad, and be parenting or pregnant. The scholarship application goes out usually in October or November and close on January 1. The application can be obtained by emailing CSFL. We advertise using flyers around campus and at dorms, especially the one that offers housing for families, emailing out listserv, and communicating with the Parenting Students Association group. The scholarship application includes questions about demographics, financial situation, the family situation, what the money would help with, and broader questions about parenting as a whole.”

How does Carolina Students for Life choose the scholarship recipient(s)?

“Almost all applications provide excellent replies about parenting: their motivations, the impact it has on their lives, and how rewarding it is. Our decision is always very hard to make… and it almost always comes down to their financial situations.”

What have you learned from providing this support to parenting students?

“I’ve learned that these students really love their children and do not regret their decisions to keep them, even though it is very difficult to balance parenting and school. They almost uniformly say that they basically sacrifice the whole of their social lives, and many of them essentially live on loans, though they have a diverse set of backgrounds and many have sizable scholarships and grants. Meeting with the recipients and their children is such a joy.”

What advice do you have for other student groups who want to offer a pregnant/parenting student scholarship?

“If I have any advice for other groups, it is that advertising is so crucial! Flyering at the dorm with family housing really makes a big difference we’ve found. Of course, successful fundraising is also necessary. While university students may not be a great source for fundraising, local churches or other groups are very receptive to our cause and very generous!”


Thank you, Carolina Students for Life, for providing tangible support to your parenting peers!

If your group wants to organize a scholarship or assistance fund, check out the Pregnant on Campus activity guide “Pregnant and Parenting Student Assistance Fund.” For assistance and support, please contact your Regional Coordinator or our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator.





Sidewalk chalking saves a baby!

Helping to save lives and make an impact on your campus sometimes doesn’t take much effort at all. In fact, it can be so simple, fun and easy yet have a profound impact on someone else’s life.


Take Lauren Goodale, the president of Promoting the Gift of Life at the University of Wisconsin Platteville, for example. Her club started two years ago and just this year they instituted the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, which seeks to be advocates for pregnant and parenting students.  One easy thing they did to show their support was something all of us pro-lifers do all the time: sidewalk chalking.

Yesterday Lauren sent me a message that described an encounter she had with a young woman on campus and her 15 month-old boy. This woman found herself in an unplanned pregnancy nearly two years ago (when the club started) and was scared. This is how Lauren described what unfolded:

“[The woman] was scared and facing a lot of uncertainty, but she saw our chalk on the sidewalks and said she felt so encouraged, supported, and confident to carry on! I haven’t had anything like that happen before!”

Lauren isn’t the only one who has experienced joy in knowing their group made a difference in someone’s life.

Alec Weber, the president of Jacks for Life at South Dakota State University joined the Pregnant on Campus Initiative this year and recently called me excitedly to share some exciting news. He had been informed that a woman on his campus chose life after seeing the sidewalk chalk Jacks for Life did on campus promoting the two local Pregnancy Resource Centers near SDSU. This young woman went to the Birthright on campus and found the support she had been looking for.

It’s the end of the school year now, and by this time, many students are burned out by the hustle and bustle of running a club, being a student, having jobs and maybe even having a social life. Students— don’t be discouraged and take heart! This movement is making a huge difference on our college campuses. You are making a huge difference on college campuses. It may take a couple years to see the difference being made (like in Lauren’s case) or you may know almost immediately. The small things we do can make a huge difference.jacksforlife

If you’re a student looking for ways to make a huge difference on your campus next year, consider the following:

  1. Contact your Regional Coordinator. Wherever you are, we have someone who wants to support you in your mission of creating a revolution on campus. Students for Life of America’s Regional Coordinators are dedicated to equipping and empowering you through training and providing resources for you and your club. Email info@studentsforlife.org to determine who your Regional Coordinator is.
  2. Joining our Pregnant on Campus Initiative. By joining this nation-wide initiative, you can learn practical and fun ways to support pregnant and parenting women at your school and in your community. If you have questions, be sure to contact Beth Rahal, our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. To learn more, see our “Get Involved” page.
  3. Start planning your year! I know the end is in sight, but don’t let this summer go to waste. By planning your year before the school year even begins, your group will spend less time during the year focusing on what to do, and can spend more time focusing on how you’re going to do it. Be sure to ask your Regional Coordinator for a Plan Your Year Guide (or download it here) and training—they’ll help you schedule dates to do some sidewalk chalking too!


This post was contributed by Angela Erickson, SFLA Northern Regional Coordinator.

Celebs & students advocate for parenting resources

Source: Jennifer Garner, Facebook page

Source: Jennifer Garner, Facebook page

On May 5th, celebrity Jennifer Garner announced her support for non-profit organization, Baby2Baby, and voiced the need for more people to step up to provide tangible support for struggling moms. Her Facebook post announced: “1 in 3 US moms struggle to provide clean diapers for their baby. Today, I spent the day with Baby2Baby talking to moms about the better value of Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers and their incredible donation of 1.5 million diapers to Baby2Baby families in need. You can help too! For every post with ‪#‎snuganddry‬, Huggies will donate another pack of diapers to baby2baby!”

Jennifer and her husband, Ben Affleck, have previously been quoted supporting the value of children and family.

“A baby fills your life.” – Jennifer Garner

“Family is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do other stuff with your life. In fact, having a family makes things you have that much richer. It’s much nicer to share it with people you love.” -Ben Affleck

Jim Gaffigan- Pregnant on CampusHowever, Jennifer Garner is not the only celeb taking a stand for pregnancy and parenting resources. Earlier this year, Ashton Kutcher launched a Change.org campaign to challenge Target and Costco to provide diaper changing tables in men’s restrooms of their stores. And of course, we can always count on the hilarious Jim Gaffigan to celebrate the joys of family life and speak out on the need for more support for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

Celebrities and students alike are catching the bug to expand pregnancy and parenting resources! Despite the continued dialogues and disagreements on abortion, these resources are one place where pro-lifers and pro-choicers can come together and make a difference. We all can agree that empowering young people to pursue higher education is a notable goal and that there is an obvious void in support and resources for students balancing parenting and their education.

Let’s face it:

  • Over 2 million college-aged women (ages 18-24) become pregnant each year.
  • Unintended pregnancy rates are highest among poor and low-income women, women aged 18–24, cohabiting women and minority women.
  • About 23% of students are parents.
  • 13% of students are single parents.
  • Almost 5% of students have a child under the age of 1.
  • 12% of students have at least 1 child under the age of 5.
  • Less than 1 in 10 students with children complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of college entry.
  • 61% of women who have children after enrolling in community college fail to finish their degree, which is 65% higher than the rate for those who don’t have children.

When confronted with these statistics, we have no choice but to take action on our college campuses! Through the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, your student group can lead your college community in the promotion and expansion of pregnancy and parenting resources. You can unite your campus to make real, tangible changes that make a difference in the lives of your pregnant and parenting peers. Together, we can provide greater opportunities for our college-aged women and men to succeed as both students and parents.

While these celebrities deserve a big THANK YOU for taking a stand for women and families in need of pregnancy and parenting support. it’s time for us to take action. It’s time for more college pro-life groups to join the Pregnant on Campus Initiative!

To get involved with the Pregnant on Campus Initiative, please contact our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator or your SFLA Regional Coordinator. For more information, please contact pregnancyresources@studentsforlife.org

Western Washington SFL reaches out to RAs

Western Washington SFL- Group PhotoOften student groups have to find creative solutions to meet the needs of their pregnant and parenting students on campus. One helpful solution for bridging the gaps in resources is creating Resident Advisor Kits to help educate and prepare Resident Advisors to better respond to pregnant, parenting, and post-abortive students.

This Spring, Western Washington Students for Life took on Resident Advisor Kits as a new Pregnant on Campus resources project. Their RA Kit project has opened up a new conversation on campus about the lack of pregnancy and parenting resources available to students, and it has provided numerous opportunities for the Western Washington SFL group to provide information and resources to departments around campus.

Way to go, Western Washington Students for Life!

We asked Western Washington SFL to update us on their efforts and the importance of this type of outreach. Here’s what they had to say!

Why did your group decide to reach out to Residence Life?

One of our club members is an RA, and her friends would frequently talk about how since she is an RA, she has to carry condoms around with her all the time just in case one of her residents needed one. I asked her if she would know what to do if a resident confided in her that she was pregnant. She paused, thought a moment, and told me that they had not trained her about what to do in that situation; so she would probably send them to our university’s Health Center. I then researched the Health Center and found that the only resource that was offered to pregnant women on our campus was Planned Parenthood. That realization spurred our group to action! We decided to start with RA packets since our RAs would be one of the first people a scared pregnant student might contact.

How did your group customize your RA Kits?

WW SFL- RA Kit- Small ImageWe assembled a folder full of resources: our Pregnant on Campus handbook, Stand up Girl materials, our local Bethany Christian Services adoption materials, our local maternity home brochure, a list of local and national pregnancy hotline numbers, Title IX materials, the SFLA RA letter, a business card from our local PRC, and a Feminists for Life brochure.

What responses have you received from Residence Life?

The response has been amazing! I mentioned the RA kits to a friend one day, who is an RA (and pro-choice), and she asked to see one. I met with her a few days later and brought an RA kit with me. She told me that since she had talked to me last, she had been thinking about how she was never trained how to act in a pregnancy situation and how there are zero pregnant girls on campus. She said that this absence of pregnant girls really bothered her because she knew that women on our campus do get pregnant, but their absence told her that they all either drop out of school, or get an abortion. She went on to say that a resource kit like ours would make it possible for a student to keep her baby and stay in college at the same time! She was so excited that she asked to keep the RA kit and gave me the Residence Life Director’s contact information! We met with the Residence Life Director last week, and he told us that we needed to take all our resources to the university’s Health Center, Women’s Center, Counseling Center, Sexual Awareness Center, Wellness Center, and Sexual Assault Center, because these university help centers had zero pregnancy resources! He told us that he would review the information we gave him and get back to us soon! His response made us want to jump up and down with excitement! We also took the resources to a campus ministry: the WWU Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, and they now have that information to give to students who may come to them for help!

How successful is your effort thus far?

So far, our effort has been incredibly successful! Our Residence Life Director said he would keep a couple in the Housing office, hand out letters to the RAs outlining the resources that our campus, and community have for pregnant students, and tell them that he has more information in the Housing office if they need it! However, we are still waiting for him to confirm his plan for the resources.

How do you see this project impacting your campus?

I see this project transforming our campus in a beautiful way. Students will now have a plethora of life-affirming resources that will enable them to keep their child and still go to school. This is so much better than a link to the local Planned Parenthood. If we had not started with the RA kits, then we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to supply all the other university help centers with our resources!

Why is it important for other pro-life groups to reach to, educate, and provide resources to RAs?

RAs are the first people that students who live on campus connect with and learn from; they are the people that scared students run to when they need help. If RAs do not have life-affirming pregnancy resources to give their residents in a time of need, then those residents may turn to Planned Parenthood for help. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for RAs (the first people the student talks to) to have pregnancy resources that will enable the student to make a life-affirming decision.


Make RA Kits for Your Campus

Does your student group want to make Resident Advisor Kits? Check out this helpful guide, and start putting together this unique resource for your campus. Contact your Regional Coordinator or our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator for assistance with this project.

Western Washington SFL