Single Parent Gets Financial Aid Back – Thanks to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative

By Bethany Janzen, Rocky Mountain Regional Coordinator, Students for Life of America

The phone rang. It was a 10:35 am and I didn’t recognize the number, although it had a Colorado ID. On other end was a desperate sounding young mom of an 11-week-old baby.

“I was given your number and told that you could help me with my rights as a single parent and student,” the voice on the other end said hurriedly. We’ll call her Esther.

Esther’s story rapidly unfolded. She goes to a Colorado community college (where we just started a Students for Life club) and got my number from someone I gave it to when I clipboarded with the Students for Life leaders in the fall.

She had to miss class because of giving birth to her daughter in November and ended up not completing enough credits to be able to qualify for financial aid this term. Because of this she was dropped from her classes.

I texted our National Pregnant on Campus Director, Beth Rahal, and soon we found out what information Esther needed. I sent Esther an email telling her about what steps to take to make sure that her rights under Title IX are followed (you can’t be discriminated against because you had a baby), including the name and contact info for the Title IX Coordinator at her college.

Esther texted me that same evening letting me know that she appealed her appeal. Within two days, Esther had recovered her financial aid and told me recently that she feels so empowered to be a mom and finish her education.

“I was about to have a mental breakdown before I called you,” she said.

When people around the country heard about Esther’s story, they offered to donate to a baby shower for her.esther baby shower

So last week, our Students for Life club threw Esther a baby shower as their first official event! Esther’s face lit up as she opened a package with a baby gym and boxes of diapers for her little son.

“I thought I knew what love was, then I had my son,” Esther said.

But like many students in her position, this wasn’t always Esther’s perspective when she thought of having a baby – just one year ago.

“I made an appointment for an abortion. My town’s Planned Parenthood was booked out several weeks, so I made an appointment at a Planned Parenthood an hour or so away.”

“When I asked my friend to drive me to a ‘doctor’s appointment’ out of town, she said, ‘Why are you going there for a doctor’s appointment? What’s up?’”

“A stomach bug, you know,” Esther lied.

“Come on,” her friend replied. “What’s really going on?”

At this point, Esther told her friend the truth.

Her friend responded, “You’re trying to hide that you’re getting an abortion because you know you’re going to regret it. Let’s tell our youth pastor….”

Esther never showed up for her abortion appointment.

Instead, her church and community came behind her, babysat her son, and helped in many ways.

But Esther is also especially grateful for the rapid response of the Students for Life of America team.

“I thought I was going to have to wait for weeks,” Esther said. “But you picked up the phone and gave me the contact information for who to talk with within a couple hours. Within two days everything was resolved.”

Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative helps pregnant and parenting students in all 50 states complete their education and connects them to local resources including childcare, healthcare, health insurance, housing, food, clothing, and pregnancy testing and counseling.