In February 2017, graduate student Staci L. Young founded USC’s first Student-Parent Association (SPA). This organization consists of currently enrolled USC students of all levels who are either pregnant or parents.
Young, a Master of Communication Management student, single-handedly founded the organization before it was recognized by the University.
As the organization’s president, Young focuses on augmenting the size and awareness of SPA on campus. So far, the Student-Parent Association includes 60 members.
“Right now, I am making sure that other students are aware [of student parents in the USC community],” Young said.
SPA’s mission is to establish a close-knit community that enables student-parents to connect with each other for personal and academic support.
Student-parents are exposed to existing resources to facilitate their time at USC. Resources range from receiving assistance with housing, to childcare and additional campus resources.
However, SPA also has a large focus on increasing the amount of resources available to student-parents at USC. Young stated she founded the organization because there were no university organizations that supported or understood the underappreciated student-parent population. She wanted members of the Trojan Family and beyond to recognize the situation of these students who do not receive enough exposure and their individual circumstances.
“There was no data about [student-parents], no types of forms or anything that marked a student acting as a parent [while attending college],” Young said.
SPA aims to advocate for the student-parent community by encouraging transparency on campus. SPA also hopes to increase USC’s understanding about the daily challenges student-parents face.
“Our biggest focus is trying to get USC to see that you have a need to address these issues, since there are a lot of other schools that are addressing them,” Young said. “USC isn’t really doing that great of a job yet.”
Unlike other institutions, such as UCLA or the University of Virginia, USC does not provide the needed support that Young sees a demand for.
“[UCLA, UVA and similar campuses] have a lot of resources available for their student-parents, such as a resource center or even a specific website that people can log into,” Young said.
SPA has plans to additionally create a community in which the children of student-parents feel welcomed and included on campus.
The association has discussed organizing kid-friendly tailgates that would both benefit the parent and their child.
“We are young students — we want to have that same experience, but be able to include our kid,” Young said.
Other activities proposed to integrate children into the USC community include educational programs.
“We’ve also talked about having monthly visits to museums,” Young said. “That way, our kids feel like they are part of the community because we can get them involved.”
SPA advocates keep an open mind to students who have unique backgrounds, while also working to build acceptance among students about other students’ circumstances. remind the
“Not every student is going to be your typical 18-year-old coming into college,” Young said.Elizabeth Kirillova
The organization currently advertises its presence on campus through the USC Student Portal, social media and word of mouth.