Parents balance family, school responsibilities

Jennifer Nacin

Offensive lineman Kory Pence has more to tackle than just the defensive line.

Pence, junior in marketing, and his wife Heather, senior in music, experience college in a way the majority of college students can’t imagine. The couple must not only juggle classes, work and football practice — but they also get to experience parenthood along the way.

Even with a 4-month-old daughter demanding constant attention, the couple said they wouldn’t have gone through college any other way.

Students with children at Iowa State have many options for child care and married housing locations either on campus or close to it.

Kory and Heather said they decided to live off campus after they married because it was closer for Heather to walk to work compared with on-campus married housing. The couple moved to an apartment that was more accommodating to the newest member of their family.

The Pences might also be able to receive assistance from the Child Care Assistance Program. Heather Pence said they applied for the program because it offers great services for students who are parents. Those services include a nurse on staff who answers child care and child health questions. She said a nurse is also available to take care of their child if she needs medical attention.

Jerri Baumeister, director of the Center for Child Care Resources, said many parent-students on campus take advantage of child care services. She said the Center for Child Care Resources location at University Village has been very helpful for parent residents there.

“We have a pretty good percentage of university families accessing our services,” Baumeister said.

Baumeister said the Center for Child Care Resources offers students with children the chance for education and consultation on child care issues or concerns.

Researching child care options early is the best way for parent-students to ensure the best quality and satisfaction with their child care provider, she said.

Ginny Arthur, associate director for residence life, said there are many housing options for parent students who want to live on or near campus.

Schilletter Village and University Village are two housing options available for these students, she said.

“I think we provide a unique community,” Arthur said. “We offer child care, we are close to campus, and we offer programs that address issues or problems married students have while they are in school.”

Arthur said this kind of support system is important for married couples because they can learn from experiences of others like them and make lasting friends along the way.

Catherine Dekkenga, graduate student in architecture, lives in University Village with her husband, Jacob, and their three children.

Dekkenga said knowing and living around other married couples has had a positive impact on her experience at Iowa State.

“We knew the university offered married student housing, and we thought it’d be nice if we were around other people going through the same experiences,” she said.

Arthur said University Village and Schilletter Village offer social programs to their residents to help build community and create a support unit among residents.

Dekkenga said she feels on-campus housing was a good choice after she and Jacob got married.

“It’s worth it to live in on-campus married housing,” she said.

She said the cost of rent allows residents to save for the future, and the proximity to campus is favorable.

Josh Nordyke, junior in management, and Najua Nordyke, senior in communication studies, included University Village and Schilletter Village in their list of possible living arrangements for after their wedding. They said they felt rent was too high compared with off-campus housing.

“On-campus married housing was too expensive,” Najua Nordyke said.

“So we decided against it. It works better for us to live off-campus anyway.”

Chris Fowler, program coordinator for the residence halls, said the department of residence tries its hardest to accommodate married couples.

“We continue to try to keep our rent as low as possible so residents will choose to live with us,” Fowler said.

Kory Pence said marriage has its share of sacrifices, but the joys have outweighed the trials. He and Heather said they are glad they didn’t wait to get married until after graduation.

“Marriage is a great thing,” Kory Pence said. “Anyone thinking of getting married should do it. I’ve enjoyed it.”