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Pregnant students face tough times

November 29, 2010

By Christelle Vereb, Staff Writer

Many college students dread the idea of reading the following instructions: hold the color sure tip directly in a container of urine or in your urine stream. Wait two minutes. A blue line in the control window will show indicating that the test has worked. A plus sign equals pregnant, and minus sign is not pregnant.

Though the majority of Young Harris College students will not experience this emotion first-hand, several young female students are currently pregnant and attending classes regularly. With this life-changing event, these women and their partners have faced mixed reactions from YHC peers and faculty. From stares and passive comments to even a few outright confrontations and a long-standing rumor that pregnant students faced immediate expulsion from YHC, pregnant students and their partners have a tough time on campus.

After dating for one year, junior Liz McEntyre from Eastman and sophomore Steven Holland from Douglasville, are currently expecting their first child in December.

“When we found out we were pregnant we were shocked, excited and scared,” McEntyre said. “But then we realized that God has given us this baby for a reason. We are expecting a little girl on December 14. We are going to name her Bridgette Karyn. The fact that we were pregnant and in school though was a bit scary; so, we tried to hide it from everyone. We only told our close friends, but somehow everyone found out.”

Despite anxiously anticipating the arrival of their baby, McEntyre and Holland have received different reactions from students.

“We receive strange looks. People make jokes. We try not to let it get to us,” says Mcentyre.

Holland added, “It makes me angry sometimes.”

In response to these looks and comments, McEntyre stressed that, “we are still the same people we were a year ago. We just have another person in the picture now.”

McEntyre and Holland are still planning to continue their education at YHC. While Mcentyre has received some negative criticism, these sentiments are not felt by all YHC students.

“My suitemate is pregnant. It’s strange to think that they are starting a family so young. I think they should have waited because their lives are going to get really tough. She is a strong woman though. She goes to class knowing that people are going to stare, but she keeps her chin up. I look up to her for that,” said freshman Taylor Chestnut.

In the same way that Chestnut respects the couple’s decision, YHC administration has also worked to ensure a fair college experience to all of its students.

According to Susan Rogers, vice president of student development, YHC has never had an official policy that prevented a pregnant student from residing on campus. The office of student development works to see that pregnant students at YHC are treated just like every other student. When students are found to be pregnant their best interest is kept in mind when deciding what their next step will be.

“Each student is taken care of according to his or her own individual situation; a pregnant student is no different from a student, who, for example, broke a leg playing soccer.  Therefore, if a student desires to live on campus while pregnant there is no reason for them not to. If a student is removed from campus it was because that student wanted to live off campus, not because they are not allowed on campus,” said Rogers.

Once a student is pregnant, they have an opportunity to speak with Linda Kniess, director of student health services, as well as Dr. Lynne Grady, director of Counseling and Psychological Services Center. The student is given a chance to ask questions about any concerns they may have.

“We serve as what to expect when expecting, to students” said Grady.

Along with Grady, Kniess also plays a role in student pregnancies.

“Being pregnant is not a handicap; we provide information to pregnant students so that they know what risks are present if they are to stay on campus. For example, they could go into labor while no one is around to help them. That could be a life-threatening position for both the mother and the child. We speak with each student with their best interest in mind. Our main worry is the safety of that student,” said Kniess.

While YHC focuses on the physical and mental stability of pregnant students, many colleges provide family housing and special programs to pregnant students. For example, according to the University of Missouri-St. Louis’s website, the university has a new sorority called Mu Tau Rho, which is tailored for student-mothers. Also according to the website, the University of California-Berkeley has a specific staff and office to provide aid to student parents.

While other colleges and universities have special programs to aid expecting students, YHC is still considered a small academic institution; therefore, housing or special programs are not currently available for pregnant students.

“Being pregnant is not a handicap; it’s hard, but I am still very capable of doing whatever I did before. I do not need any specific programs to aid me; I do not need special treatment. I am still the same person I was before I became pregnant,” said McEntyre.

Throughout this experience, both McEntyre and Holland feel that they have grown as people and the couple is looking forward to the birth of their baby girl in December.

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