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Student Parents in Adult Education Programs: A Student Perspective

John Hunt, Interim Assistant Dean for Pre-College Academic Programs, Division of Adult and Continuing Education, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Recently CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez participated in an Aspen Institute “1 in 5 [College Students are Also Parents]” podcast with Jesús Benítez, a graduate of our HSE program who subsequently earned his associate’s degree at LaGuardia, then his bachelor’s degree at City College, and is now employed as Fatherhood’s Mentor Coordinator. In describing his academic journey, Mr. Benítez provides valuable insights on how HSE students who are also parents experience our programs and the impact that their participation can have on multiple generations of a family. He highlights the role that welcoming and supportive staff and mentors can have on participants who may be skeptical about even enrolling in free educational programs that may sound too good to be true, about how difficult it can be for clients to ask for help or reach out when faced with barriers, and most optimistically, about how succeeding in his own educational pathway created a multi-generational “domino effect” on his siblings to explore post-secondary opportunities, on his mother to be inspired to pursue her dream of running marathons, and in the future on his own son’s education.

Jesús Benítez with his son on graduation day

Listen to this insightful "1 in 5" Podcast with Chancellor of the City University of New York Félix Matos Rodríguez, and CUNY Mentor Coordinator and Ascend Parent Advisor Jesús Benítez. During this conversation, they reflect on the first season of 1 in 5, offer insights into what institutions of higher education can learn from these stories, and share their own lessons and inspiration from their work alongside students and their families.

Also check out this previous episode "Meet Jesús Benítez"

LaGuardia Community College, a campus of the City University of New York and located in the borough of Queens, offers a wide range of adult education services, primarily through its Division of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE), which itself serves approximately 12,000 students per year in a variety of ESOL, high school equivalency, pre-matriculation remedial, and workforce development courses. As a core part of its mission, our continuing education division is committed to providing services for the estimated 18% of Queens residents (out of a borough population of 2.2 million) who lack a high school diploma or equivalency. ACE hosts an on-site NYSED Literacy Zone, a NYSED HSE Testing Center, a variety of day and evening high school equivalency preparation courses in both English and Spanish, along with wrap-around case management and post-secondary transition advisement services.

A key department in these efforts is the CUNY Fatherhood Academy (CFA), a free program designed to promote responsible parenting and economic stability for unemployed and underemployed fathers (ages 18-30) through education, employment, and personal development. The department provides a range of academic and personal supports including high school equivalency preparation classes, tutoring, individualized counseling, parenting seminars, MTA Metrocards, and job preparation.

Listen to the whole series here or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

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