FRANKFORT – Kentucky State University (KSU) senior Destini Raye Baker started at the university as a trombone player with the Mighty Marching Thorobreds. However, in her sophomore year, the English major became pregnant and struggled for a semester trying to maintain being a mother and a student.
“The hardest part of being a student mother is the spontaneity of my schedule,” Baker said. “Every day is something new — like illnesses — and you have to change your schedule to take care of and nurse your child back to health.”
The Louisville, Kentucky, native noticed there were no resources available to help student mothers who were trying to balance being a mother and a student. She decided to organize M.U.V.A.S (Mothers Understanding the Value of Academics and Striving for Success). Although Baker is married, she still struggles with maintaining being a mother and student due to her hectic schedule and unexpected situations. Baker reached out to other student mothers who have the same time constraints and formed this network.
Baker founded the group on March 28, 2016. The M.U.V.A.S work together by listening to one another’s troubles, lending advice, helping with babysitting and extending any other helping hand the student mothers may need. They also plan events to ease the stress that comes with motherhood.
“We have ladies night on the fourth of each month where we get a chance to go out and wind down,” she said. “We are also planning an Easter extravaganza.”
The M.U.V.A.S isn’t just a group, it is a sisterhood. There are currently 10 members and the group is open to welcoming new members. Their mission is to provide the necessary resources, information and sincere support for students who are mothers. The goal of this organization is to empower them to succeed as a mother and as a student.
“You do not have to be a mother to become a member of M.U.V.A.S,” Baker said. “You just need to have the passion to want to help and support the mothers. We help each other by being there for one another.”
KSU grad and Louisville native Shanice Best eagerly joined M.U.V.A.S after she talked with Baker. Best, who has a 2-year-old son, said the group helped her while she was a student mother.
“It felt good to be around those who were in similar situations, understood and with the support of the organization helped me get through classes,” she said. “I think it will be a popular organization for student mothers, as well as a good outreach for those who aren’t. I see the M.U.V.A.S organization expanding to different schools and I just see M.U.V.A.S doing big things.”
The group meets once a month or sometimes more, if needed. They meet for study sessions and hold classes on parenting. They also host family nights and have inspirational guest speakers.
The M.U.V.A.S also meet to give back to the Kentucky community as they offer mentoring to young mothers and help with applying to college. Recently, the group met at Shawnee High School in Louisville to mentor high school mothers. The KSU student mothers also pitch in to give back to various shelters in the community. M.U.V.A.S post their upcoming meetings on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
The group is currently working with the Dean of Residence Life Monesca Smith to get temporary housing for families until the organization can afford to fund their own family housing.
“We have been discussing alternatives and ways the University will be able to be more supportive of our students,” said Smith.
The M.U.V.A.S hope to expand their membership over the next few years. The members vote every spring semester on who will serve as officers in the organization. The current officers consist of the Vice President (Ashlei Carter), Secretary (Nichol Sistrunk), Treasurer (Dorian Wright) and Community Outreach (Mariah Bailey). Each officer can be reached by campus email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can keep up with the M.U.V.A.S latest events by following their social media pages on Instagram @M.U.V.A.S and Facebook @MuvasKysu. If you would like to become a member, you can contact the president, Destini.Baker@kysu.edu
— Mieisha Carter