This year, the Women with Children (WWC) program celebrates its 20th anniversary at Wilson College. The program has made an impact by taking a different look at the college experience, and helping women who may not have thought of college the opportunity to attend . Recently, Wilson College was ranked ninth out of the top eleven best colleges for pregnant and parenting students on Students for Life of America (studentsforlife.org).
Katie Kough, Director of the WWC program since 2009, says they are still in the early stages of commemorating the anniversary, but to expect a series of events. Over the past few weeks, lunch sessions have been held to discuss the progress the program has made and to give students insight on the program and its upcoming plans.
As for why she chose her position, Kough states, “I have always worked in higher education and student affairs in some capacity. When the Women with Children program position opened up, I remember thinking… two of the most significant things I have ever done in my life is go to college and have children. And so I wanted to be in a position where I could be a resource that helps students and helps parents wanting to go to college. That was really exciting to me.”
The program helps women and children alike.“The parents are not making that choice between their kids and education. It gives them the opportunity to balance both,” Kough explains. “The chance to live on campus, I think it does a lot for the mothers, it gives a lot of support, they’re close to resources… it doesn’t make their lives easier, you still have to be a college student, but being here in a group having similar situations may provide a measure of comfort. It also exposes their kids to the idea of college and learning. So a lot of these kids may leave here just assuming that that’s their next step, college, whereas living somewhere else they may not make that assumption.”
Further supporting Kough’s perspective, Karalee Nichols ’16 states, “I like the fact that my son gets to see me go to college, because I am setting an example for him and showing him that it’s okay to further his education.”
Everyone in the Wilson community is encouraged to help with the program, with the anniversary celebration. Since the program began, there has been constant discussion of how it can evolve to accommodate more students but remain within manageable standards.
“When it started 20 years ago, we accepted infants. So over the years, there’s been conversation on what needs to grow, what needs to evolve…” Kough mentions.
The program has managed to draw interest from students all over the country, from California to New Hampshire. Kough even specifically noted that few of the current residents are actually from Pennsylvania. With this program, students are able to feel secure and gain a great experience they would have never had without it.
“Both Nevaeh and I have grown as individuals and we gain more confidence every day because of the opportunities that living on campus offers,” Kerry Salmi ’16 states, about her and her daughter’s experience here. “Wilson will always have my gratitude for granting me an opportunity to prove to the world, and myself, that I am worth it and that I can do anything if given a chance.”
Students who are part of the WWC program are also able to get involved on campus like traditional students. Christina Gonzalez ’16 is president of the Wilson College Government Association (WCGA). Amadea Clement ’16 is a Resident Assistant (RA) and mentions how her involvement has helped with the anniversary.
“This semester, the WWC RA’s are trying to bring mothers who have once been part of the program to come back and speak with the moms on campus in honor of the 20th anniversary,” Clement states. “I am [also] avidly creating programs for the residents of WWC.”
The anniversary does not have a specified date, so throughout this fall the program will be holding various events to commemorate it. To find out more information on the WWC program, contact Katie Kough at email@example.com.