Moms and dads on campus

Changing diapers,picking up toys and checking an8-year-old’s homeworkaren’t the typicalresponsibilities ofan undergraduate.

But forsome UC Davis students,that’sjust part of an average day.

 

From morning to night

Cedric Papa’s day starts at5:45a.m.The27-year-oldsenior exercise biology majorand father of threeusually starts his morning at the gym,andthen studies before his kids wake up.

Papa then goes to campus at7a.m.,where he attends classes and studies until6p.m.on weekdays.

“Bysix I’m ready for a change– be with the kids and to forget about the books,he said.

Changing diapers,picking up toys and checking an8-year-old’s homeworkaren’t the typicalresponsibilities ofan undergraduate.

But forsome UC Davis students,that’sjust part of an average day.

 

From morning to night

Cedric Papa’s day starts at5:45a.m.The27-year-oldsenior exercise biology majorand father of threeusually starts his morning at the gym,andthen studies before his kids wake up.

Papa then goes to campus at7a.m.,where he attends classes and studies until6p.m.on weekdays.

“Bysix I’m ready for a change– be with the kids and to forget about the books,he said.

On weekends he devotesmoretimeto his studies,but leaves Sundays totally openfor family.And fortunately for the family,Papa’swife,Stacy,is a stay-at-home mom.

“We want to keep one of us home with[our children],Papa said.“No one cantake care of them better than we [can].

Singleparent Jenny Gamma,21,balances her time between classes,her1-year-old daughter anda19-hour work week atthe Early Academic Outreach Program center on campus.

Gamma said the typicalweekday starts early and ends late.

“My day is usually a lot of toys,a lot of diapers,a lot of fitsand a lot of phone calls,she said.

Childcare is the biggest challenge for Gamma,a senior human development major.Although her daughter’s father and grandmother are able tohelp,reliable daycare remains an issue.

“[Finding childcare] really restricts any extracurricular activities you can do,she said.

Junior electrical engineering major Marion Boddy said her kids,ages two and six,attend the Center for Child and Family Studies,an on-campus daycare,when neithershenor her husband,adoctorate student,can watch them.Gamma plans to look into similar options.

 

Balancingact

How do they do it all?

Papa said time management is key to beingacollege student,a husband and a father.

You have to structure [your time] or you’ll fail all three,he said.I’velearned tobe really structured.Everything has a purpose.

As a pre-dental student,Papa’s academics keep him busy.

The TV’s unplugged and never gets turned on,he said,adding he also has no time for leisure activities such asfacebook.com or followingsports.There’s no filler time.

Papa also works as a roofing contractor,although he said“the more I focus on [school],the less I am able to work. To fill thefinancialvoid,Papa reliesonuniversity and outside loans.

Gamma agreed that good organization is key.

I have three different calendars,and [Ikeep lots of] notes,she said.

Senior English major Eva Beaver,44,said as a student and a parent,she must balance thenormal challenges of getting assignments finished on time,but I also must make sure [my son] finishes his homework.

 

Family housing

Allfour families live in campus-managed housing that caters to families,such asOrchardPark andSolanoPark.

Beaver,who has lived inSolanoPark for nearly two years,said she mostly socializes with the people who live inher complex,who she says area good mix of undergraduate and grad students.

“The people here become family,she said.

Beaver said she tries to get involved with activities on campus,butI do feel a bit apart [from the mainstream community] because of my age– it’s about a20-year difference.

Beaver,who liveswith her8-year-old,said she likes living inSolanoParkbecausethere are loads and loads of kids for [my son] Noah to play with.

“The other parents are in the same situation I am,she said.We help out with each other’s kids.

 

Different perspectives

Papa said his home life and school life areas different as night and day.

“It never mixes,he said.

Papa’s apartment complex,OrchardPark,istargeted at students with families.But unlike Papa,mostresidentsare graduate students,whom he rarely bumps into on campus.And his classmates tend to be younger,single students.

Papasaid having a family makes him more focused on his studies than his younger classmates,whoare sometimes distracted by partying orotherleisure activities.

I haven’t been to a single party since I’ve come toDavis,he said.I’d rather hang out with the kids.

Boddy also said she feels having a family makes her priorities and approachto her studies different than the typical undergraduate.

I want to do really well and also finish quick,she said.I don’t want to waste time[because ofmy otherresponsibilities].

 

Worth it in the end

Even after all the early mornings,late nights and full schedules,the student-parents are confident in their decisionsand think going to college is the right step to provide for their families.

As a first generation college student, [my son] sees me doing something that other women in our family haven’t done,Beaver said.

Trying to finish my degree is very important to me so my kids have something to lookup to,Boddy said.

 

ANNA OPALKA can be reached atfeatures@californiaaggie.com XXX.