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Pregnant and Parenting Students in California: A Look at the CSU System
Thursday, February 24, 2022 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PST
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Despite having a higher GPA on average than their peers, 52 percent of student-parents leave college within six years without completing their degree. More often than not, pregnant and parenting students don’t see their needs and circumstances reflected in course policies and accommodations. What are the biggest challenges faced by this student population? Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring pregnant and parenting student success, and how is the California State University System doing in supporting them?

Join the Michelson 20MM Foundation, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Blue Shield of California Foundation, California Competes, The Education Trust—West, and Tipping Point Community as we explore the current state of pregnant and parenting students in California and identify pathways that can help them succeed.

Opening Remarks by Alya Michelson
Co-chair, Michelson Philanthropies

Alya Michelson is an artist, philanthropist, and journalist who is passionate about uplifting women’s and immigrant stories. An immigrant herself from Russia, Alya led an awarded career in journalism before moving to the United States and launching a career as an artist working in multiple genres. Today, she serves as co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies and is developing a new project that celebrates global citizenship by highlighting how the immigrant experience strengthens the American story.

Dr. Tina Cheuk
Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Tina CheukTina Cheuk is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. She is a mother, scholar, educator, and advocate focused on empowering and imagining futures that sustain and cultivate the learning, growth, and success of minoritized groups in postsecondary education. For much of her career, she has focused most intently on issues that include the development of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in STEM settings, the struggles, assets and possibilities of teachers of Color across the pipeline, and student activism work that transforms institutions toward more equitable and just learning spaces. Her advocacy work considers how policy and resources—or their lack thereof—contribute to the alienation and erasure of student parents in higher educational spaces. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Chicago and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education Policy from Stanford University.

Pamela Lewis, M.S.
Senior Director of Multicultural Affairs & Inclusion, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)

Pamela LewisPamela Lewis serves as the Senior Director of Multicultural Affairs and Inclusion, inclusive of the CSULB Village program, the Dream Success Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the Women’s and Gender Equity Center departments at CSULB. Her higher education experience has been extensive at the Beach. She has served in leadership roles with Associated Students, Inc., Housing and Residential Life, and University Access and Retention. Her professional compass includes outreach and recruitment, student life, student government, residential life, student conduct, Title IX, multicultural affairs, access, retention, diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success initiatives. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and Master of Science in Counseling, Student Development in Higher Education from CSULB. Pamela is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership. Throughout her career, Pamela has been an advocate for the underrepresented voices and a change agent for the betterment of all. Her favorite quote is, “You are not a leader until you have produced another leader who can produce another leader” ~author unknown.

Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez
Professor, California State University, Fresno

Larissa MercadoLarissa M. Mercado-Lopez, Ph.D., is a former student parent and currently Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at CSU Fresno, where she teaches courses on women of color feminisms, Chicana feminism, and Latinx Health. Dr. Mercado-Lopez has published public scholarship and authored and edited books on Latinx literature, Chicanx children’s literature, and higher education. Additionally, she serves as Book Review Editor for Chicana/Latina Studies Journal. At Fresno State, she actively engages in student and faculty success work, particularly for student parents and women of color faculty. At the system level, Dr. Mercado-Lopez is Director of the statewide CSU Student Success Network Conference.

Jasmin Othman
Masters Candidate, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly)

Jasmin Othman is a parent and a mother to a funny and empathetic autistic eight-year-old. Beyond the joy he has brought to her life, he has also increased her awareness of neurodiversity, which has tremendously expanded.

As a student-parent at California Polytechnic State University, Jasmin has obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Under the supervision of Dr. Tina Cheuk, she collected and analyzed data to understand ways institutions of higher education can create more equitable practices for student-parents. Currently, Jasmin is a Master’s Candidate studying Educational Leadership and Administration. As an academic coach at Cal Poly’s Mustang Success Center, she mentors student-athletes and is a career advisor at Cal Poly’s Career Services. She is passionate about increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all domains.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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