Pilar Caceres, a Mexico City native, wants to bring awareness to the importance of the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center at CSULB and the support it has offered her as a parent of two earning her degree in Child Development and Family Life Education. She shares her academic experiences as well as how she has overcome challenges.
Why are you passionate about the CSULB Pregnant and Parenting Advisory?
I pointed this part of my journey because I believe it is very important to know the resources available in and out of the campus. I attended Rio Honda College for more than three years and then transferred to CSULB. It has been a long journey for me because I had to share my time with my two kids. I have a seven-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy. They have come with me on my academic journey. This is important to mention because I did not have the opportunity to find out if Rio Hondo College offered or provide a program for students with kids or pregnant students. I transferred to CSULB and at the beginning it was the same situation. There is not good publicity on any of the programs that the school offers to specific communities. I started doing my research beginning on IPCDC (Isabell Paterson Child Development Center) to enroll them there. When I was there I found out that I had priority for being student of CSULB. Those things are important to let the students know about the resources and programs they can have when they are enrolled in CSULB. Unfortunately, I became passionate when I found WGEC (Women and Gender Equity Center) and all the programs and resources they offer, I said to myself “this is a great resources for PPS, they must know about them.” I became the commissioner because I will become the link between PPS and the resources. I believe that not only PPS but other programs must be offered to all students or transfer students during SOAR because I did not know about them until the end of my journey.
What are your goals after graduation?
I am graduating this spring, so I would like to continue my journey in a Master's program. I have two majors related to children and family. Therefore, I would like a Master's degree in Nutrition and Science or Special Education. I am doing my research on Nutrition and Science because I believe that I need four courses more before applying to the program. Special education would work better, so I was thinking of taking a course in nutrition and doing my master on special education. Therefore, I would have my two interest areas. During this pandemic, things have changed. I spent my morning with my son in virtual learning and my husband with my daughter, so I don’t know if I will apply this spring to graduate school or wait until things work better.
How have you overcome challenges as a student parent?
I have been living in the U.S. for 11 years. I got married here. I started going to an adult school to learn English. Then I started going to Rio Hondo College. In my second semester, I got pregnant. Since then, I had to reduce the time I was spending in school. I had to balance my life at home and at school. The most challenge I faced was to attend school and take care of my girl at that time. I guess Rio Hondo College offered PPS programs but I couldn’t find any program that fit with my situation. Therefore, the only option was to split my time with her. My husband was the only financial provider at home. The last semester at Rio Hondo College, I got pregnant with my boy. That year, I transferred to CSULB. For the first semester, I continued splitting my time with my two offsprings. Fortunately for me, CSULB offers online courses that I took advantage of. When my girl was old enough to send her to daycare, I applied for IPCDC which I did not know I had priority for being a student in CSULB. The waited list was so long, but we talked to Alec Cochico. She was very helpful; we explained my situation and my enthusiasm to continue studying. It was a long journey and I did not want this to become an obstacle to continue. My girl was accepted without financial aid which we accepted. After that, I started searching for the programs or resources that CSULB offers to parents or pregnant students. WGEC was the main resource that helped me to not stop my dream of having a degree in the United States. Even though I obtained some of the resources, having children during student life is hard. The school demanding gets hard every semester.