Michigan State University recognizes that students with families have responsibilities that present challenges unique to this student parent population. In 1994, several students with the assistance of Family Resource Center (FRC) established and registered a student organization for the purposes of providing encouragement and support to student parents—Student Parents On a Mission. SPOM provides an opportunity to network with other student parents and discover the many resources available at Michigan State University and in the surrounding communities.
Meetings are held monthly during the academic year and feature guest speakers focusing on topics affecting student parents and their families. Social events and activities are planned for parents and children. Networking increases student parent access to information in such areas as: employment opportunities, scholarships/financial aid, and inexpensive/free activities for families. SPOM is about student parents who want to succeed academically, develop an effective peer support system, and make new friends. This group makes every effort to provide support and encouragement to student parents during their time at MSU.
In the Beginning
It was 1991 when LaRonda Brown-Chastang stepped foot on Michigan State University’s campus. She was 18 years old and had a two-year-old son, Marcus. Like many of us, she felt alone and very isolated. Not only did she have to learn to live away from the friends & family who have always supported her, but she had to adjust to university life. This in itself can be very overwhelming.
After two weeks of complete exasperation, LaRonda was ready to quit school and go back home. Her mom convinced her that she was not a quitter and she would overcome all obstacles. When fall semester started, she thought things would get better because more students were on campus but she only felt further isolated because she was not the “traditional college student”. All the friends she had made were not parents and their only concern was with the next party.
Things became more and more frustrating for her and she began to talk to her advisor and anyone else that would listen. She wrote letters to different departments on campus about how MSU was not meeting the needs of student-parents. She was determined to let everyone know that her needs were just as important as anyone else’s and she demanded support from the institution.
She hollered and screamed for over a month and decided to stop waiting for the University to fix her problem. She met a woman named Sharon Preston who was also a student-parent and together they talked about their concerns. LaRonda took it upon herself to start a group for student-parents and it was that day that SPOM was born. She got all the information she needed to make SPOM a registered organization on campus and it became official in August 1994. Both Sharon and LaRonda drove all around campus putting up flyers, and telling everyone they saw with a stroller about the organization. It began with four and as our membership stands, we have almost 100.
In May of 1996, LaRonda graduated from MSU with a degree in Family Community Services. She then went on to get her Masters at the University of Michigan and received her degree in Social Work in December 1997. But, LaRonda will not stop here. She plans to move on and get her PhD. She is currently working in Atlanta with her husband and continues to advocate for student-parents.
LaRonda was an inspiration to so many. It is that persistence and determination that lies in each and every one of us.
—Christine Carter (2000 SPOM Graduate)
Past SPOM Family Activities:
- Andy T’s Pumpkin Patch
- Carnival and Resource Fair Fund Raiser
- East Lansing Aquatic Center
- Holiday Adopt-A-Family Program
- Holiday Party with Santa
- Homecoming Parade
- Lansing Lugnuts
- Mom’s Spa Day
- Spring Graduation Banquet
- Uncle Johns Cider Mill
- Valentine’s Day Family Dance
- And SO MUCH MORE! A great way to connect with other student families and enjoy time with your children with family friendly outings.