Balancing student life while being a parent


Iman Alrashid

Madison College journalism student Darion Lanagan holds his daughter, ZaRayla.

Iman Alrashid, Copy Editor

Being a college student who has children comes with many additional responsibilities outside of classwork. It’s a balancing act that many experience at Madison College.
Darion Lanagan is a 24-year-old journalism student at Madison College who has a 1-year-old daughter.
“Being a father is breathtaking … scary, but the best thing that happened to me,” Lanagan said.
But being a parent and a student wasn’t easy at first.
“My grades dropped down, my GPA dropped down,” Lanagan said. “I am a father, when my daughter needs me. I will never let her down.”
Madison College has a group to support students like Lanagan, the Student-Parent Affinity group. The newly formed group at Madison College is available to help students navigate the challenges of balancing parenthood and student life.
Student-parents go through challenging times like any other person – every family situation has unique circumstances.
For Lanagan, being a father gives him the power and the determination to keep him going to get the future he has been dreaming of. With warm, caring words, Lanagan explains how spending time with his little girl reminds him constantly of his goals in life.
“Spending time with her gives me the power to continue and get further education,” Lanagan adds.
Being a father, going to college and working two jobs is not easy. Working hard runs in Lanagan’s family, his mother is a hard worker who set up a fitting example to lead her family.
“I learned from the best; my mother worked hard to provide us with everything we wanted. We name it, and she gets it,” said Lanagan.
Watching a parent take on the challenge of pursuing higher education demonstrates to children of any age that this is a key step, and with time it becomes an important part of their life.
Successfully completing a college education may set the bar of expectations for your family – a positive effect that can ripple through generations. And this is the situation in Lanagan’s goals.
“I want my girl to get a high education, bachelor’s or even master’s degree … this picture in my mind all the time,” he said. “If I can do it, she definitely can do it,” Lanagan added.
But with all this challenging work comes the potential for burnout. All student-parents need support from their families, friends and even strangers going through the same situation and know what they are going through.
In Lanagan’s situation, he has a big loving family who helps him.
“My family is a great support, and I’m so grateful,” Lanagan said.
At Madison College, the Student-Parent Affinity group is here for any student-parent who feels burned out and needs help or just someone to talk to.
Student-Parent Affinity Group supports all students by providing a warm environment where they can meet other students living under the same pressure of working, studying and caring for their families.
Anna Nickolai, a senior disability resource liaison at Madison College, and Mary Ciesielczyk, student-parent support coordinator run the affinity group.
Nickolai and Ciesielczyk would like to reach all Madison College students through the Student-Parent Affinity Group to tell them that their doors are open to any student who needs help and support.
“We are here to listen and take action to help any student that needs help,” Nickolai said.
Through the Student-Parent Affinity group, you can meet with students who share the same struggles and the same goals and dreams. Sharing life’s experiences and sharing stories about your children makes you feel that you are not alone in this world and that there are many people there to support you and inspire you.
If you would like to join the Student-Parent Affinity Group, or just need additional support, connect with Nickolai and Ciesielczyk at [email protected] or [email protected]