The 2017 Student Parent Support Symposium: Innovations and Best Practices for Promoting Student Parent Success

A Symposium by the Sea at Endicott College


Photograph by : Diana Santana, Student Parent Club President, UMass Lowell

In June 2017, Endicott College became the first institution to host the Annual Student Parent Support Symposium away from it’s founding home at The Ohio State University.

Participants came together on Endicott’s beautiful oceanfront campus just north of Boston to spend two-and- a-half jam packed days of innovative ideas, emergent strategies, policy updates, best practices and more!

On Wednesday the conference featured a series of keynote panels beginning with a panel of incredible student parents including: Jonas Schmidt (UMass Amherst), Marpha Charles (Endicott College Boston), Amber Angel (Cal State University –Fullerton/Los Angeles Valley College), Anjanette Vaidya (Rutgers University), and Sarah Galison (Boston College/Endicott College ’16) moderated by Dr. Erika Kates.

This panel was followed by a presentation on the Family Friendly Campus Toolkit, including a presentation by its creators Elizabeth Osche, Joan Karp and Debra Smith, of the Program Evaluation & Research Group. This was followed up with reflections from representatives of seven of the eight institutions that helped to pilot the toolkit: James Stewart (DePaul University), Teresa Bill (University of Hawaii), Amber Angel (Los Angeles Valley College), Amanda Johnson (Northern Kentucky University), Traci Lewis (The Ohio State University), Peggy Favorite and Candace Schaffer (Purdue University), and Racine Amos (University of Rhode Island).
After lunch Marissa Mahoney of Ascend at the Aspen Institute sat down for a one to one chat with Endicott College’s President, and founder of Keys to Degrees: Educating Two-Generations Together, Dr. Richard Wylie to discuss the challenges in convincing your administration to support student parents.

The day closed out with a World Café in which people grouped for discussion and to coordinate and collaborate with colleagues old and new. Followed by a tour of the Keys to Degrees residence hall, fun social activities with colleagues and friends, and a classic New England Clambake on the Endicott lakes!

The day did not end there though, because the conference housing was provided in an on-campus residence hall, many people took the opportunity to continue to get inspired with chatting late into the night in the residence hall lounge and reflecting on the experience of the symposium.

Thursday June 15, 2017

Thursday began with the incredible Lindsey Reichlin-Cruse from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research providing the updates on important of upcoming federal and state policy changes that may help or hurt student parent success.

After a full day of amazing breakout workshops, the day closed with a presentation by Dr. Jillian Duquaine-Watson reflecting the findings presented in her newly released book, Mothering by Degrees:

Single Mothers and the Pursuit of Postsecondary Education, followed by a book sale and autograph reception.

As people said their goodbyes, Friday closed the symposium with a panel of successful student parent alumni: Dr. Maria Valgoi, a single mother and Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nicole Parsons, a single mother and recent graduate of the doctorate in higher education leadership program at Endicott College, and Katrina Costa, a biotech researcher and 2014 graduate of Endicott College’s Keys to Degrees Program in Biology and Biotechnology, moderated by

Dr. Sheila Katz a Sociologist at the University of Houston. Each of these panelists offered not only their experiences of success, but also a deep critique of the notion of equal educational opportunity for student parents reflecting the multitude of challenges they faced in completing their own degrees. Their recommendations pushed and challenged individuals and institutions to consider their approaches to supporting student parents, especially the ways in which student parents needs are left unmet.

The symposium ended with Friday workshops, and a closing opportunity to discuss takeaways and next steps toward advancing student parent success in the coming year, and years to come.

Feedback from participants reflected an informative, empowering, and inspirational symposium that left them feeling challenged, charged and connected to others who share in their mission and support their work in support of student parents. We look forward to seeing you in Portland, Oregon in 2018!

The 2017 Student Parent Support Symposium was partially funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

Student Parent Ambassadors Program

This year, we had the unique opportunity to initiate the Student Parent Ambassador’s Program, which facilitated the participation of local student parent leaders to attend and participate in the symposium.

Scholarships were provided to cover registration, travel and housing costs to facilitate student parents to attend the symposium. We also partnered with to provide on-site childcare and offered an additional family-friendly lounge. In total 20 student parents attended the symposium. Each student parent ambassador was a self-identified leader on their campus  and advocate for student parent support. These students were paired with a conference mentor who was also a student parent, and is now a professional working in this field.

It is the shared vision of the conference planning team and of the National Center for Student Parent Programs more broadly that student parents are experts on their own lives and have powerful contributions to make to informing strategies for student parent success. We hope to continue to offer the Student Parent Ambassadors Program at the symposium in the future, and are currently in the process of seeking donations and other funding in order to do so.

We are grateful for the support of the Rogers Family Foundation, the Abbott and Dorothy Stevens Foundation, and the Edward S. and Winifred Moseley Foundation which supported the 2017 Student Parent Ambassadors Program.

For More Details Check Out the Symposium Program!

Check us out our Facebook feed for live videos from the Symposium!

Additional archival materials are available to symposium attendees and current NCSPP members. To learn more about membership click here.

To request non-member access as a 2017 Student Parent Support Symposium Registered Attendee please contact us: