ASU group helps empower, educate pregnant students

The Pregnant on Campus Initiative provides resources and support for pregnant students.

Getting pregnant while still in college can introduce new challenges for those seeking a degree, but one group on campus hopes it can provide support to pregnant students and help them finish their education.

The Pregnant on Campus Initiative at ASU is a new extension of the organization Students for Life. The group focuses on providing resources and support for pregnant students who may be at a loss of where to look for help, Pregnant on Campus co-chairwoman Jacqueline Welsh said.

“We saw that there was a need on campus for support for pregnant and parenting students,” Welsh said. “Since becoming sensitized to the idea of pregnancy, I have seen a lack of support for women in pregnancy, and that can come with feelings of isolation.”

The group provides students with a packet of information, including places to go for parenting classes, adoption resources, health and family services, basic insurance information, child care options, affordable food and baby clothes and contact information for local OB/GYN services, some of whom do not require insurance, Welsh said. The packets also include various articles group members have found to try and help pregnant women feel beautiful during their pregnancy, Welsh said.

The group, which had its first event earlier this month, receives its funding from ASU Students for Life, Welsh said, but if someone were interested in joining and was not a member of Students for Life, they would be welcomed into the group as well.

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By Gretchen Burnton

Members of the ASU Pregnant on Campus initiative display stickers they created for the club to promote their mission of supporting students who are pregnant. 

Welsh and her co-chairperson, Jordan Tewes, spent the beginning of the school year organizing the information packet, which they hope to expand in the future.

Welsh said she hopes to reach out to more on-campus services in the future, to try and partner with ASU Health Services and ASU Parent and Family Resources to provide services and information to students and utilize all possible resources.

In the upcoming years, Welsh said she wants to start a dialogue with pregnant women and parenting students on campus to see how the group can best cater to their needs.

“Maybe a woman needs a ride to a prenatal appointment or needs something from the grocery store,” Welsh said. “I look forward to being able to build a supportive relationship with women, but we haven’t had a chance to do that yet."

ASU Students for Life President Maggie Otlewski said her club decided to bring the initiative to ASU this year to create a more supportive environment for students who get pregnant or plan to get pregnant while in college.

“Because we believe that ASU students should be fully equipped and empowered to continue their education while pregnant or choosing to parent, the Pregnant on Campus Initiative is a necessary and natural extension of the work we are doing to educate our campus and advocate for respect for all human life,” Otlewski said in an email.

“It has also been our experience that many ASU students are planning to become pregnant while finishing their undergraduate or graduate education, and are looking for more information on how this will affect their academic life and what resources ASU offers,” Otlewski said.

Otlewski said there is no statistical data to determine exactly how many ASU students are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, she said it is important to provide resources to a group who might otherwise feel alone and lost in the process.

Welsh said she knows there is a negative stigma attached to being pregnant while in college, but she hopes her group’s work will help start a conversation about the needs of pregnant women and parenting students who are still in college.

“We really want to empower women during and after pregnancy, and get rid of the stigma that her pregnancy and higher education are incompatible,” Welsh said. 

Reach the reporter at Corina.Vanek@asu.edu or follow @CorinaVanek on Twitter.

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