Jessyka Villalva wants to motivate her two children with her educational journey. Photo provided by Jessika Villalva.
By Annais Garcia. Staff Reporter.
Every morning, Jessyka Villalva, a California State University Dominguez Hills student of Liberal Studies, wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to shower, cook breakfast, wake up her kids, and get them ready for school. Villalva is the mother of a six-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. She also works as a nanny of two kids and is enrolled in two online classes that would take her closer to earning her bachelor’s degree.
“I would say that this is challenging, stressful, but very rewarding,” Villalva said.
After she drops the kids off at school, Villalva stops at the park for a quick workout before going back home to cook for her family and join her online classes. Then, she takes her kids to soccer games and to other activities. Her day ends by doing homework at midnight.
“To watch them, work with them, take them to their activities, those little things I enjoy to do,” Villalva said.
During the last years in California, 1.5 million students applied for Financial Aid, and from those, 13% were parents of children according to a UC Davis report.
Villalva is also one of many students who have applied to Financial Aid, have children and divide their time between family, career, and work.
“I’m only one of the millions and everyone has a different story,” Villalva said.
Villalva decided to take online courses to spend time with her children at home. They are the most important part of her life but she is also very committed to her career. Her degree would not only provide her family with economic stability, but it would also motivate her kids to pursue their educational goals in the future, just as she is doing it right now.
“I could finish when I was younger, but I was not as motivated as I am right now,” Villalva said.
It has been demanding for Villalva to take care of her two children and attend college at the same time. But her kids are the motivation she needs to graduate. She wants to make them proud by earning a college degree.
“I think that if I wait until my kids are older, I would be much more tired and not as motivated as I am right now,” Villalva said.
Ever since Villalva graduated from high school in 2005, she has never stopped taking classes. She believes that right now is the perfect time to finish her studies.
“Honestly I don’t think that there is a right way to do it, you have to do it when it feels appropriate because everybody’s circumstances are different,” Villalva said.
According to a BPS study, students who are parents are 10 times more likely to finish their Bachelor’s degree in a longer time than those students who don’t have any children.
As Villalva gets closer to finishing her academic goal of graduating next spring 2023, she is considering pursuing a master’s degree to work in the education field. A career path she has always wished for.
While Villalva has been a student and mother, she has encouraged other members of her family, like her younger sister, to go to college and finish a career. She tells her that it is never too late to go back to school, and that it is important to work on one’s goals.
“If you are motivated and want to have some stability, then do it, and do it for yourself,” Villalva said. “Once you have that degree on your hand, it is something you can be proud of.”
In April 2022, the CSUDH Student Parents organization invited those students that have children to participate in a survey (that closed on April 30th), where they would share their experiences and could win a $50 gift card.
“The experiences of pregnant and parenting students are valuable and the purpose of the survey was to gather more information about their needs,” said Melissa Neustein, from the CSUDH office of equity and inclusion.
CSUDH has developed special accommodations for students who are pregnant or have recently given birth. These accommodations include excused absences, the opportunity to make up missed work, alternatives such as retaking a semester in case of missed course, and lactating stations for mothers who attend in-person classes.
Villalva is a first-generation student who will earn a bachelor’s degree at CSUDH and she wants her children to do the same in the future.
“I’m the first one in my family to graduate, this is not just for me and my kids, it is for my family,” Villalva said. “My family is definitely my motivation.”