New online resource for UC Santa Cruz student parents

January 8, 2020

By Matthew Alvarez 

“I am a graduate student in the astronomy department. I am also a single mother.”

Sara Crandall is with the UC Santa Cruz astronomy and astrophysics department. She is also mother of an energetic little girl, Tessa. Crandall and Tessa have been in Santa Cruz for four years now, where they have both managed to find a place in this community.

blowing-bubbles.jpg
(Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Crandall initially chose to come to UC Santa Cruz for her graduate studies because of the support her department committed to her during the recruitment process.

“They knew I had a child and they were going to support that,” notes Crandall.

This support she felt made all the difference, and now Crandall wants to help all student-parents here at the university.

“The goal of this website with lists and lists of resources is for those who need it to find a sense of community here,” she said in a recent interview.

The journey to developing a students-as-parents resource

Crandall’s idea to extend support to all parents at UC Santa Cruz quickly turned into action. Her first task was compiling a list of all of the resources available to both undergraduate and graduate students who are also parents. It turns out these resources existed but were scattered in different places and not easy to find. She met and spoke with numerous staff and other graduate students throughout the fall quarter.

With funding support from the Divisions of Graduate Studies and Student Success and a bit of technical support, a series of webpages that centralized all that information to create the Students As Parents resources was created and is housed on the Division of Student Success' website. This comprehensive list of resources includes information that student-parents might find useful during their time at UC Santa Cruz.

Crandall reflects that although her department had been very supportive, there were many resources that she simply had not initially know were available. “I was looking back and thinking about what could have helped me later or earlier on in my program and this kind of thing definitely could have helped me.” 

The Students As Parents resource webpages that Crandall compiled include information about accessing financial aid, housing, and child care as well as provides links to resources about health insurance for dependents, ways to address food insecurity, and much more. Each section includes links to additional pages with specific information, important contact information (including email addresses), and other helpful tips and suggestions that Crandall thought would be useful to others.

Crandall adds that there may be information someone else may think is important that she has missed. In this case, she notes feedback can be provided by sending an email to dsscoms@ucsc.edu. She wants to ensure the website is up to date and that all information that might be helpful is included.

More about Sara and Tessa

two-families
(Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Sara and Tessa Crandall (here seen left with friends living at Family Student Housing) are originally from Kansas, where Sara did her undergraduate and master’s degrees. It’s been four years since they moved here. She and Tessa enjoy their home at Family Student Housing (fondly called “Fish”) and the work they both do in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department as well as the university. 

“I study stars in particular,” says Sara about her research here, “I look at the outer layers of the star, the atmosphere of the star, in order to age date them.” In an interview, Sara also tells me that Tessa has played a role in her research.

“She is well-loved in this department. Because I am a single mom, sometimes when she doesn't have school or child care she'll come with me to research meetings or talks.”

Again mentioning how helpful her department has been, Crandall notes, “my department has been really open and wonderful about [Tessa being present] and supports it.”

Crandall thinks seeing the life of a graduate student/mother/academic is an extremely valuable experience for Tessa to have at such a young age. Maybe someday Tessa will also become a student (aka banana slug) here too!

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