The experiences of a young student mother

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Ashlie Gamero taking her graduation pictures at the BYU-I Rick's gardens. Photo credit: Ashlie Gamero

Being a mother while in college could seem like a nightmare for some women studying at BYU-Idaho, but there are others who have happily accepted this challenge.

Ashlie Gamero, a BYU-I nursing graduate, found out she was pregnant when she was a freshman in college, and her husband was recently beginning his college career.

The news turned their world upside down, and they had to make many big and hard decisions for their future family.

“When I found out I was pregnant, we were really scared,” Gamero said. “We didn’t know if we should be excited or just terrified. We had mixed feelings about it because we weren’t expecting to have a baby yet.”

One of the biggest worries that comes to the mind of a young married couple who are expecting a baby is how to provide enough money for their family. Gamero did not know how she and her husband were going to organize their schedule to balance work, college and family life.

She was very worried about how she and her husband were going to be able to work, study and be parents at the same time.

“We were really scared that we didn’t have any school done or really good paying jobs, so we didn’t know how we were going to pay for our baby, and we didn’t really know how to be parents and keep going to school,” Gamero said.

Gamero and her husband decided to keep studying and working because both wanted to pursue their careers.

“I always felt like I wanted to go to college and have a career, as well as being a mom,” Gamero said. “So I didn’t want to just put off my own desires because I was having a baby.”

Trends in Church culture sometimes make women who are married at a young age feel as if they are expected to have babies soon. Outside the Church community, some women who are mothers while studying are expected to drop out of school.

As a young married woman, Gamero felt pressure from her family and friends to study and be a mother simultaneously.

“As women, we have a hard go sometimes because we are expected to do everything,” Gamero said. “We are expected to be a mom and we are expected to get an education.”

Gamero had to deal with the burden of criticism and the low expectations people had about her being a mother and a college student. People around her tried to discourage her from following her personal goals.

When people make negative comments or look down at student mothers, it makes them feel lonely.

“Everybody thought it wasn’t a good idea for both of us to keep studying,” Gamero said. “They would always say, ‘Why doesn’t your husband just study first and you can go back to school later when your kids are older?'”

But Gamero ignored these comments and got through college where she successfully graduated with a major in Nursing in December 2020.

“I was so happy, and it felt so good to be done,” Gamero said. “I was really proud. I felt so accomplished and so grateful that I have gotten through it.”

Every person has a different calling in life. Some women want to study and be mothers, some only want to be mothers and other women do not want to be mothers at all. Gamero did not wanted to be limited to only one option, and she accomplished her goal by having her family as her motivation.

“If something were ever to happen to my husband, and I was left by myself with the kids, I didn’t want to be stuck in a situation where I didn’t have a career or wasn’t able to get a job to support them,” Gamero said.

Many women who are mothers do not have the emotional support they need to know they are capable of studying and raising a family.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million female students in the U.S. are raising their children while they go to school.

Gamero and other student mothers are not alone in this journey.

She encourages future mothers to keep following their personal desires, no matter how hard and lonely the journey is. She also suggests that mothers find emotional support from people who share their same experiences.

“Talk to other people,” Gamero said. “Try to look for other moms or other friends who can support you and have a community that cares about you.”

When being a mother and going to college at the same time turns out to be a lonely road, do not hesitate to ask for help. Believe in yourself.

You’ve got this.