Women’s Center 25 Then vs. Now #8: Support for UMBC Moms + Parents

WC 25 Logo - PurpleThe Women’s Center at UMBC turns 25 this year! We’re excited to share our important milestone with UMBC’s 50th Anniversary and will be celebrating throughout the year with the rest of campus! We were inspired by Special Collections archival project Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th and decided to do our own digging into the Women’s Center archives. Over the course of the year, we’ll be sharing 25 “Then vs Now” archives to celebrate the origin and evolution of the Women’s Center at UMBC.

This week we’re featuring the history of the Women’s Center supporting working moms and student parents! 

Since our opening in 1991, the Women’s Center has continually been dedicated to UMBC mother’s and returning students. Long before it was mandatory by policy, the Women’s Center has had a lactation room in our space to supporting nursing moms returning back to work and school. Early in our history, we hosted monthly Mother’s Group meetings and served as a safe-haven for moms to come together sharing both their challenges and successes with each other as they navigated parenthood. Lasting friendships between participants formed and it was empowering to know moms on campus could connect and advocate for themselves and each other. The Women’s Center also hosted a list-serv for these parents to continue connecting with each other sharing resources like childcare, the most reliable sitters, and recommended pediatricians.

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Kiddos and moms hanging out in the Women’s Center in 2000

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Today, the Women’s Center no longer hosts a face-to-face mother’s group meeting but we do host an online forum via myUMBC for parents to connect with each other and share resources (such as the childcare resource guide the Women’s Center manages and updates from year to year). All UMBC parents are encouraged to join. We always welcome little ones into our space and at our events – especially if it means their parents get to spend time in the Women’s Center too! On snow days when UMBC is open and local school districts are closed, your bound to see a Little Retriever or two hanging out in our space with their parents in between their classes. The lactation room is always busy and we work hard to accommodate everyone’s hectic schedules. Many student parents also find a home and support through our Returning Women Students events, programs, and scholarships.  Women’s Center staff also serves as the staff advisor for the new Parents Club student organization. UMBC student parents are encouraged to join the group and can learn more here.

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A Little Retriever playing in the Women’s Center during a recent Parents Club meeting.

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The lactation room in the Women’s Center. Did you know we recently were awarded the Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Award?

What are the memories you have of the Women’s Center over the years that are meaningful to you? What does the Women’s Center mean to you today? Share your memories and pictures with us in the comment section below!

Stay up-to-date with our 25th anniversary on social media using #UMBCWC25. Share your Women’s Center experiences and memories with the UMBC community using #UMBCWC25 AND #UMBC50!

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Graduation: A Decade-Long Journey

Carrie Profile PicA final reflection from Carrie Cleveland as a undergraduate and Women’s Center staff member

In the fall of 1996, I started my college journey at Douglass College at Rutgers University.  I spent a brief three semesters at Rutgers, mostly floundering around and hating my choice of major (pre-business).  In December of 1997, I left college and began working at Starbucks.  I managed to support myself, but barely.  I spent a few years at Starbucks, but knew that this was not what I wanted to do with my life.

When I decided to leave the retail/restaurant world, I had a hard time finding another job that would pay me a living wage.  I was told that my lack of college degree made me “highly unemployable” in the words of one recruiter.   It was then that I tried to get back to school.  I could never figure out how to pay for it and cover my living expenses.  I had no idea what I was doing in terms of financial aid and loans.  I never asked for help. I just kept on working low paying jobs that had no professional opportunities for growth and thought I would go back to school later.

Time passed. I got married and had a baby.  We then picked up and moved from New Jersey to Maryland.  In my new home, I felt isolated with a husband who worked A LOT, a newborn baby to care for, and no nearby family or friends.  I convinced my husband that it would be a good idea for me to go back to school, even if it was just to have some social interaction with people who could form complete sentences.

In the fall of 2007, I re-started my college journey at Anne Arundel Community College.  I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I *grew up* (mind you, I was almost 30 at the time), but I walked through the door thinking I would get my general education credits done and figure it out from there.  In the meantime, I  would go on to have another baby, find my calling (social work), graduate from AACC, and have ANOTHER baby.

While my story is uniquely me, it isn’t necessarily a unique story. Continue reading