Second Shift: How a single mom juggles college and work
We all know living in a city is expensive. How does the average person make it work? Our series features people working more than one job to make ends meet. This week, meet Janice: a 21-year-old single mom who is working and in college full-time. If you want to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Janice Marie Durrant
Residency: North Philadelphia
Lives with: Her 5-year-old daughter
Number of jobs: One, while attending school full-time
You’re a junior at Temple University. What’s your major and what’s your course load?
I’m majoring in communication studies and minoring in Spanish. I take six back-to-back courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is 18 credits. Fifteen credits is full-time, so 18 is called “overload” and has to be approved by the school.
And you work in addition to being a full-time student?
Last summer, I studied away in New York City and it was really successful for me. Now, my job is to recruit other students to study away. I got hired as the presentation chair, so I give presentations in different classes to bring awareness to studying away.
Do you rely on this job for money?
I do. This is my only job and it’s part-time. Right now I’m more concerned with finishing school, so this is what I can do to get money.
Not only are you a full-time student and working part-time, but you’re also a single mom.
Yes. My daughter is 5. She goes to school while I’m at class, and fortunately her school offers extra daycare. I pick her up from school every day except Tuesdays, which is when she goes to a nonprofit organization where she gets to take singing and dance classes.
How were you able to juggle everything when she wasn’t old enough for school?
It was hard. When I first had her, people thought — because of the statistics — that I wasn’t going to continue my education. I was in high school and luckily I had so many credits that my senior year I only had to take two classes. I would pay my roommate to watch her while I was at class and then I would come straight home. There was no time to do anything extra.
Were you ever tempted not to go to college and just start working?
Yes! Probably just yesterday I was tempted. It’s a lot of work. A lot. I don’t want to be the mom that says, ‘Oh I can’t go to class today because my daughter is sick.’ I still perform as a regular student. I don’t want people to say I’m doing a good job for being a mom. I want people to say I ultimately get the job done because I’m a hard worker, and I’m a mom.
What do you think is the hardest part about having a child while you’re still in school?
Just the scheduling. Last week, my professor announced that the class had to take a mandatory trip on a Saturday. I have my schedule planned out down to the last second, so when things like that happen, or an internship tells me they need me on a day I’m not normally there, it only gives me 24 hours to find someone to watch my daughter.
Do you think people have any misconceptions about what it means to be a young single mother?
Yes, and that’s why I blog about it. It’s [possible] to be a single mom and still [be successful], but it’s something our society doesn’t often see. … I started my blog as part of a class project when I was studying away in New York City about the gentrification of Spanish Harlem, but it just kind of blew up. I just hit 7,000 views and have 2,000 subscribers. It just really took off.
What’s next for you?
This summer I’m studying abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of a journalism program. My daughter will be away at a summer camp, which my mom actually runs. We’ll Skype too, but I’ll miss her!