Syreeta Martin and Haniyyah Sharpe of the Non-Traditional Student Union hosted National Non-Traditional Week Nov. 7-12.
National Non-Traditional Student Week is held annually by the Association of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education, which encourages and coordinates support, education and advocacy for the adult learner. Main Campus’ Non-Traditional Student Union celebrated the event for the first time from Nov. 7 through Nov. 12.
Alumna Jamie Gautheier and seniors Syreeta Martin and Haniyyah Sharpe established a Non-Traditional Student Union at Temple in 2010. Gautheier is also responsible for founding Mommy Grads, a nonprofit organization that reaches out to single mothers who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Temple.
“My reason for wanting to bring awareness to our organization was simply because students are unaware of the available resources to them as non-traditional students,” Sharpe said. “Sometimes you need that kind of support that allows you to bring previous life experiences, both personal and professional, to the learning environment.”
There are several contingencies that classify a student as non-traditional, such as someone who is older than 24, married, a full-time employee, a parent, a veteran of the armed forces or someone who has an independent financial status.
During the week to recognize non-traditional students, Martin and Sharpe hosted various guest panel speakers and networking opportunities. On Thursday, Nov. 10 students had the opportunity to attend a student-parent speaker series.
Guest speakers included alumna Geneva Farrow, executive director and founder of a Young Mother’s D.R.E.A.M. Despite becoming pregnant during her sophomore year, Farrow was able to graduate on time in 2002 and founded the nonprofit in 2007 to encourage other women to D.R.E.A.M–determination, resilience, excellence, achievement and motivation.
Farrow said that as a mother and student, she wishes Temple would have offered more resources geared toward non-traditional students like her.
“I definitely think I would have liked to have a support group of other parents that were going to school,” Farrow said. “So what [Martin] and [Sharpe] are doing is something that I would have liked when I was here. I kind of felt lonely, like no one else understood what it meant to have a child and go to school.”
“[Temple needs] a daycare, on [Main Campus] where I would be able to go to class and have my baby right there,” Farrow added. “It’s something that Temple should definitely look into.”
Martin and Sharpe said they would like to keep the momentum going with the Non-Traditional Student Union, however they will be graduating Spring 2012. They are looking for someone who is as passionate as they are about providing awareness, resources and support to non-traditional students.
“We partnered with organizations such as the Center for Social Policy and Community Development, YMCA and Family Care Solutions,” Sharpe said. “We specifically wanted to reach out to community organizations in and around Temple because we want our non-traditional students to understand that higher education is an option.”
Kierra Bussey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Haniyyah Sharpe is a writer for The Temple News.