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Fall 2023 Daniel R. Bacalis Striving Solo Parent Scholarship Winner

Genevieve Marie Rendon

Genevieve’s essay clearly articulates the advantages of pursuing higher education as a single parent, the risks involved in embarking on the academic journey, along with challenges and strategies to overcome them. She is a role model and a positive influence on her children, and we could not be prouder to honor her with the Fall 2023 Striving Solo Parent Scholarship.

Genevieve Marie Rendon

Read Genevieve's Essay:

Being a single parent is a demanding responsibility, juggling between parenting and providing for your child(ren). Pursuing higher education as a single parent, however, can bring numerous benefits that can positively impact both the parent and the child(ren)'s future. I will discuss the advantages of pursuing higher education as a single parent, the risks involved in embarking on this academic journey, and the potential challenges to address, along with strategies to overcome them.

Pursuing higher education sets a positive example for the child(ren), teaching them the importance of lifelong learning, determination, and perseverance. It demonstrates that education is valuable and achievable, inspiring them to follow a similar path in their own lives.

In 2017, I became a parent to two wonderful children. My son was 8 years old at the time, and my daughter was 5. They looked up to me, and I would often have conversations with them about their future goals, including going to college. It was during one of these conversations that my son questioned why he should pursue higher education when I had never finished college myself. This made me realize the impact my decisions had on my children's perspectives. With this realization, I made the decision to return to school and pursue my undergraduate degree in Legal Studies at UHCL. Balancing school, work, and parenting was not easy, and there were days when I questioned whether I had made the right choice. However, the university provided a platform for single parents like me to connect with fellow students, professors, and professionals in the field.

Building a supportive network through UHCL was an amazing experience. It allowed me to connect with others who could relate to my challenges and offered valuable resources, mentorship, and even potential job opportunities. I was fortunate to have a mentor from UHCL who provided guidance, and her support played a significant role in my success. I graduated from UHCL with honors and made it to the dean's list. My children had the opportunity to attend my graduation ceremony, where they witnessed their mother speaking on behalf of my class and walking across the stage. Seeing their smiles and excitement fueled my determination to keep pushing forward. I often remind my children that what truly matters is not when you start, but how you finish. Overall, my journey back to school was a transformative experience, and it reinforced the importance of setting a positive example for my children.

Obtaining a higher education can open opportunities for higher-paying jobs and career advancement. This can provide financial stability and a better future for the single parent and their child(ren), enhancing their quality of life. After graduating, I was thrilled to receive numerous opportunities that my mentor had shared with me. However, my passion for education and my lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer urged me to continue pursuing my studies. I firmly believed in the importance of never giving up on our dreams, a message I had frequently conveyed to my children. As their role model, I was determined to lead by example and persist in the pursuit of my aspirations.

With the guidance and support of my mentor, I dedicated myself to preparing for the LSAT by studying diligently. My hard work paid off as I successfully passed the exam. The exhilaration grew even stronger when I received an acceptance letter from the South Texas College of Law, the ideal school I had always envisioned attending. Overwhelmed with joy, tears of happiness streamed down my face. My children were immensely proud of my achievements, witnessing the immense effort and dedication I had invested over the course of several years.

The knowledge and skills I acquired during my legal studies have proven invaluable in various aspects of my life, including parenting. They have enhanced my critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making skills, empowering me to navigate challenges more effectively and make well-informed choices for my family.

Pursuing my dreams and furthering my education did come with some challenges, financial constraints, time management, and emotional strain. However, I have found some way to overcome these challenges.

One of the primary risks for single parents pursuing higher education is the financial burden. Balancing tuition fees, housing, childcare expenses, and daily living costs can be challenging. Limited financial resources may require the single parent to juggle part-time work and studies simultaneously. When I decided to attend law school, I was unsure if I could handle this burden. However, I conducted research and applied for scholarships, grants, and financial aid, which have significantly relieved the financial strain. I also know of a friend who has younger children and needed childcare while attending school. She mentioned that utilizing community support and exploring resources like subsidized childcare and housing assistance has helped her manage the costs effectively.

Being a single parent already entails numerous responsibilities, such as parenting, household chores, and possibly working. Juggling these commitments with coursework, exams, and attending classes can be incredibly demanding, requiring effective time management and organizational skills. Moreover, single parents often encounter emotional challenges, including feelings of guilt, stress, and burnout. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize managing one's emotional well-being, as well as the well-being of their children, throughout this journey.

I have personally found that adopting effective time-management strategies, such as creating a study schedule and prioritizing tasks, has helped me to strike a balance between dedicated study time and being there for my children. Additionally, building a support system, including family, friends, and fellow single-parent students, can greatly assist with childcare and household responsibilities. For instance, I have a friend who is also a single parent attending law school, and we schedule one day each week for our kids to spend time together while we focus on our studies. This arrangement has proven to be incredibly beneficial for all of us – our children are happy to see each other, and as parents, we can study without feeling guilty, allowing us to concentrate more effectively.

Additionally, seeking out counseling, mentoring, or support groups specifically tailored for single parents pursuing higher education can offer valuable emotional support and guidance. Many schools provide free counseling services that can be availed of, and I highly recommend taking advantage of such resources as they have proved to be incredibly helpful.

Most importantly, prioritizing self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for overcoming emotional challenges. Taking time for oneself, practicing self-care activities, and ensuring a healthy balance between work and personal life are vital steps toward managing emotions effectively. By doing so, single parents can navigate the demands of their academic pursuits while maintaining their emotional well-being.

Pursuing higher education as a single parent may undoubtedly present its share of challenges, but the potential benefits far outweigh these obstacles. Improved career prospects, serving as a positive role model, expanded knowledge and skills, and increased networking opportunities are just a few of the advantages that can positively impact both the single parent and their child(ren). By addressing financial constraints, managing time effectively, and prioritizing emotional well-being, single parents can successfully navigate the hurdles and achieve their educational goals, ultimately benefiting themselves and their families in the long run.

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