Current positions dedicated to serving the parenting student community play a very important role in providing guidance and support they need throughout the academic year. Because of recent budget cuts, many parenting students at Mills are facing a shrinking support system.
Despite all this, Chiany Dri continues as an advocate and peer advisor for parenting students because of her own experiences with grappling to find support as a parenting student at Mills College.
“[She] advocates for people’s voices that are not heard. I really admire that about her,” Amanda Benton said, a fellow Mills student and colleague of Dri’s.
Dri is currently a sophomore student majoring in ethnic studies, who transferred from Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). At SBCC, Dri was able to access student support services as a parenting student herself.
When first applying to Mills, Dri was led to believe that Mills had a very strong parenting student support program based on what was highlighted on the Mills website. Once she transferred to Mills, she struggled to find that same parenting student support readily available.
Dri was disappointed in discovering that Mills lacked the resources many parenting students need, as no one was able to direct her to people who could offer her support. While the current number of parenting students at Mills College is currently unknown, the amount of visibility and representation they receive is small.
After her experience with Mills’ lack of resources, Dri wanted to make sure other parenting students found the support they needed.
“She is a really strong leader, and a really strong person for going through all the things that she does,” Gloria Nguyen said.
Her job is to provide support, resources and events that allow parenting students access to the support they need as they navigate the school year. Students who are also parents carry with them the added responsibility of providing for their families while educating themselves.
Without resources, it is easy to fall through the cracks, thus adding to the importance of having a peer advisor for parenting students. With two children of her own, Dri understands the difficulties that can come with being a full time parent and student.
“She puts 100% into her work, and 100% into her family, so she is like superwoman,” Makaya Washington said. “I don’t know how she does it.”
While Dri acknowledges the changes that need to be made in order to further support parenting students on-campus, she is proud of the grant she and others at the ASMC were able to obtain for them.
Starting in the fall, the grant will help with book costs and meal and emergency funding specifically for parenting students. Dri is still working to bring awareness to the lack of support Mills offers student parents to the broader student community. She hopes that Mills will get serious about their role in providing students the support systems they need.
“In my role as student services chair through ASMC, I look forward to continuing the work of supporting parents through programming and special funding for student parent needs,” Dri said. “There will be new support systems rolling out in the fall that I’m really looking forward to for our community.”