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Single Parent Dinner and Celebration Creates Community

A new task force provides an opportunity for students who are single parents in the College of Adult & Professional Studies, Bethel Seminary, and Graduate School to connect and find support.

By Katie Johnson ’19

February 01, 2019 | 4:30 p.m.

A new task force provides an opportunity for students who are single parents in the College of Adult & Professional Studies, Bethel Seminary, and Graduate School to connect and find support.

Post-traditional students gathered with administrators to discuss ways to better support students who are also single parents. (Photo credit: Emma Gottschalk ’21)

Smiling at the group around her, Bethel University Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker promised, “The faithful love of God can be experienced among friends, even among new friends and around new tables.” And for some of the single parents sitting between faculty members and fellow students over plates full of Chipotle chips and guacamole, this was exactly what they needed to hear.

The January 22 dinner and celebration was the first event put on by a task force created by Associate Provost Randy Bergen and Dean of Education Judi Landrum, who are actively working to create a support system for students who are single parents in Bethel’s post-traditional programs.

More than a dozen people came—half single parents and half Bethel faculty and guest speakers—and parents were provided free child care. One mother mentioned that her teenage son was eager to connect with other kids who share their parents with papers and assignments, while another mother admitted that her 15-year-old came for the food.

The time of fellowship and rest was well-received by the group, who gradually settled into their seats to share their stories and connect with other people in situations similar to their own. The evening proved to be a welcome reminder that while each person may have been parenting on his or her own, they certainly weren’t alone.

Future plans to support single parent students include monthly dinners, similar to what was held on January 22, and a website offering specific resources for the single parent student community. Dave Broza, director of Bethel’s Office of Career Development and Calling, is slated to speak at the next dinner.

Landrum says the biggest thing single parents need to succeed in higher level education is a support system built on relationships. She is hopeful that events like this can help satisfy that need as the task force continues to grow. “We want to do whatever it takes to support you,” Landrum said to the group, “because if you are here, you’re part of our family. And we are going to do everything we can to help you succeed.”

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