Sunday, August 1, 2010
Sistahs Spotlight ::: Ms. Shante Pitts
It is an honor to share the story of Ms. Shante Pitts. I presented Ms. Pitts with a set of questions to help readers get a better understanding of how (some) women manage school, work, and being a mommy and yet still find success! None of the answers have been Sherrod-ed. In other words, these are Ms. Pitts' words in her own words. No snippets. No edits. Just a real Sistahs’ story. Enjoy.
1. What area of study is your degree in? What type of degree did you earn (A.S., B.A., M.A., etc.)?
I have earned a BA in psychology with a minor certificate in African-American Studies, a MA in Educational Leadership and am in the process of earning my Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Counseling (Guidance Counseling).
2. Before you earned your degree and before you found out you were pregnant, what were your plans for after graduation? Did those change once you found out you were pregnant? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
Honestly, before graduating, I was becoming increasingly worried about my student loans. I had made the decision to seek employment as a secretary or retail associate and work may way up the chain. I was thinking of quitting school. I honestly was not thinking this decision thoroughly. I was not having any issues with school as I was a Dean's List student, I just doubted (and still do) my ability to pay off the student loans. Once I became pregnant, this changed because I realized that I wasn't going to make it off 18K a year with a child. I planned on not utilizing government aid-not that there is anything wrong with it, so I decided to finish school for more options.
3. In which year (1st, 2nd…) of your undergraduate career did you have little Zach?
I had little Zach at the end of my sophomore year.
4. How long after you gave birth did you graduate?
I gave birth in November 2004 and graduated January 2007, so a little under three years. Giving birth really accelerated the process lol.
5. When you found out you were pregnant, were you worried that you wouldn’t finish?
If so, how did you overcome those fears? If not, why not?
No, not really. I pretty much knew that I would be okay. It wasn't until after I had the baby, up late at night doing papers and having him right next to me unplugging the computer several times, that I began to think that either I need to hurry the hell up, or forget bout it.
6. What kind of resources did the University offer that helped you during your pregnancy and after?
Tameka Odum started “UC Moms”.. it was the best support group ever! It helped me be able to vent my frustrations about co-parenting with his father being out of state and we often held events that would help out a lot, such as play dates and lunches. Also, supportive faculty like Ebony Griggs-Griffith who made sure I had snacks at work and the cafeteria staff who would make sure I ate daily and had a fresh omelet! [even without a meal plan..shhhhh!]Lol. Also, maintenance wouldn't like to see me walk and made sure I had a ride (via the golf carts) to classes everyday. It seems like the staff of UC (University of Cincinnati)were very empathetic from my RC all the way down to the parking lot attendants. I don't know what I would have done without the UC staff!
7. How were you able to manage being a new mommy, working, and finishing classes?
I don't know. I kind of put one foot in front of the other and repeated until I saw the finish line. I also had a lot of support, my best friends Markita Murray, my twin sister, Zakiya Arnold, they baby sat while I took night classes. I also scheduled work and classes from 8-5 and put my child in child care. I worked from 8-12 and had classes from 1-330 and worked out afterwords then got my son. I would schedule one night class and one online class and that's how I would easily take 5-6 classes a term. Then, my sister baby sat on the weekends so I could work weekends as well. I am not going to lie, it was tough! You have to be extremely organized and extremely willing to go the extra mile. None of my professors knew I had a child; I made NO excuses and did my work. One time, my car broke down for months and I had a 8am class in winter term, me and my baby rode the city bus for 3 MONTHS in the blistering cold at 6 AM.. I would drop him off the walk 3 miles to campus. I lost a lot of weight and was very stressed, but I NEVER missed a day of class. I kept my head up and kept on trucking. My son loved riding the bus too.
8. Now that you’ve graduated, are you currently working in your desired field?
Yes and no.
9. If so, what is your job title and what are some of the job expectations?
I am a Violence Prevention Specialist and I work in a Middle school doing anger management counseling, social skills counseling, crisis interventions, and I teach a social skills class as well as coordinate violence prevention programs and activities on campus. If not, what field are you working in? I would like to become a guidance Counselor, which is the same field but pays more money ;).
10. If you have to offer one piece of advice to someone who already has a child prior to entering college, or someone who may have a child during their educational career, what would it be?
Be/Get organized. Excel spreadsheets, goal sheets, etc! Also, have a support system in place! Utilize your resources both on campus and off campus. It's okay if you need some government aid or may need to put your child in day care. DO NOT BE afraid of childcare; after your research, it will be good to you. Also, take time for yourself to enjoy some of what college has to offer! Live on campus if you can (in graduate and family housing) and don't put anything on credit! Don't be ashamed that you are having a child! Go to financial aid, become an “independent student” and hold your head high. It WILL get tough, you just need to be more tough! Bring your baby on campus at the park, use the campus child care, do what you got to do to make it! It's about you and your baby and no one else.
What’s the moral of Shante’s story? Well, it’s quite obvious that with a lot of determination, a solid support system, and the unwillingness to lower one’s standards, you can make it! Shante, thank you for your honesty and thank you for sharing because I know your story will help our fabulous mother’s succeed in college and beyond.