The McGill Family Care Program supports students and staff with families by connecting them to resources. This year, we started off with the 2nd annual student parent orientation! This event featured a brief introduction to some of our resources as well as a student parent panel, and a meet and greet for students. It was a huge success, as student parents were able to discuss common experiences across their lives and collaborate on solutions! Here is an excerpt from one of our speakers, Malaika, on her experience on the panel:
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak on a panel during the student-parent orientation organized by the McGill Family Care Program. It was very encouraging to see such a good turnout and that there are many student-parents at McGill. I realized that many of the parents have similar concerns such as isolation, lack of support and family housing, challenges finding adequate childcare, and are seeking ways to turn McGill into a more family-friendly environment. I think with the additional responsibilities that parents have, the student-parents at McGill crave more support and an opportunity to feel like they fit in among the more traditional students. I am excited to be a part of this venture and look forward to contributing towards making student-parents feel more at home at McGill.
-Malaika Awori-Gunther, Med School Year 1
Many key points were made during the event that emphasized the fact that a student should not have to choose between raising children and pursuing an education. The importance of self-care as a way of dealing with the stress of being a student parent can look differently for everyone, but making sure to have a bit of time dedicated to yourself each day is a way of making sure you stay grounded. Making time dedicated to spend alone with your children uninterrupted is important as well to ensure that they feel included. A great suggestion one student parent made is to give kids a brief introductions about what you are studying so they feel included. In general, there is a big need to raise awareness about the different types of students at McGill, which was a common theme at the orientation. For example, International students often have difficulty coming to McGill with their families as they don’t have a social support network and they are navigating the transition into a new country on top of everything else! The need for a space on campus for student parents became clear as a way of increasing visibility and accessibility. Student family housing project is a great way of creating this space. Another common piece of advice from the panelists is to ask for help! Mentioning to your professors and classmates that you have a child can make all the difference for interactions further down the road. All in all, the amazing student parents we met at the orientation were inspiring! We hope to see more of them at McGill in the future.
* Permission was granted from all those appearing in the photos