One OCCC program is working step-by-step to make campus an encouraging, open and helpful place to single-parent students. The program is called the Single Mothers Academic Resource Team or SMART.
“I feel the SMART Program offers single parents hope and encouragement through their journey of balancing work, going to school and raising their children,” said Keisha Williams, SMART coordinator.
Although the SMART program’s acronym says “Single Mothers,” the program is determined to help all single parents, dads included, Williams said.
The goal is to be an encouraging force in the students’ lives.
Jessica Green is a college student in the program. She is a single mother who goes to the school for college level courses as well as working in the FACE center.
“The SMART program has impacted my life because I know I am not alone in my struggles of being a single mom and student,” she said. “It has helped me to find resources I never knew existed on campus.
“Without the program I would feel like I was the only one facing struggles like being a single mom, being a student, and working.
“When I want to give up and I feel alone, it’s nice to have friends to talk to who I can relate to.”
SMART was created out of concern for some troubling statistics in this state. Oklahoma ranks high in single mothers incarcerated, child abuse and neglect, and single-parent families living in poverty.
The group who began SMART believe strongly that education is the means for systematic change in the lives of single-parent families, Williams said. The single mothers meet monthly to get to know each other and make friends with others in the same situation.
“The monthly meetings make the program successful because it brings mothers together in a supportive setting. They can share their stories with one another and realize there are others in similar situations and they are not in this alone,” Williams said.
SMART offers parenting skills, finance training, housing tips, stress relief techniques and more, Williams said. The program received its original funding through a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma. The program’s main goal is to make sure parents at least finish high school.
According to the SMART program website, their goal is to encourage the students to begin taking college courses to obtain a degree at OCCC or complete a certificate of mastery, which could lead them into a good job in the workforce.
In some cases, participants are working to acquire a GED.
At this time, there are approximately 22 SMART students, 12 who have finished high school and are at OCCC for courses and 10 working on their GED. The program is located in the FACE Center, located about one mile north of campus at 6500 S. Land Ave.
To apply, contact Keisha Williams at 405-682-1611 ext. 7117.
For more information on the SMART program, visit their website at www.occc.edu/smart.