Hertel joins MN Representative Ilhan Omar, author of both bills, to advocate for additional support services to parents pursuing postsecondary education.
Dunwoody College of Technology student Jessica Hertel testified before the Minnesota House of Representatives Higher Education Committee earlier last month, encouraging the passing of two new bills that would provide additional support services to pregnant students or student parents.
The first bill, House File 2257, which would increase the amount of the child care grant for college students from $2,800/per child, per semester to $3,000/per child, per semester as well as increase the eligibility to students who attend college from 8 semesters or less to 10 semesters or less.
The second bill, House File 1577, would fund grants to colleges for student parent support programs. Grants could be used for campus childcare services, Student Parent Programs such as support groups of other student parents, and additional assistance with childcare, housing, and transportation.
Childcare stipends help makes postsecondary education for parents possible
Hertel shared that her reason for testifying was to advocate for other student parents, like herself, who need and have benefited from extra support. Hertel has received the existing child-care grant for the last two years.
“This bill hits home for me,” Hertel said. “I don’t know if I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for that grant. That’s what it comes down to.”
Dunwoody’s WITC scholarship program provides additional support services to women
Hertel applied to Dunwoody’s HVACR Systems Servicing associate’s degree program in May of 2015. Shortly after being accepted to Dunwoody, she was accepted into the College’s Women In Technical Careers (WITC) scholarship program. Led by Program Manager of Women in Technical Careers Maggie Whitman, the program was created to help women students succeed in degrees often defined as “non-traditional” for women. The program also serves as a strong peer support network for women, approximately 1/3 of whom are also parents.
Program participants receive up to $20,000 in scholarships, $1,500 of which can be put towards a childcare stipend.
Hertel said that this level of support not only sold her on Dunwoody but college in general.
“After talking with Maggie about WITC and all of the support [we’d receive]—that was exactly what I needed,” Hertel said. “I was so nervous. I was so on the line about even going to college, but, after talking to her I was like, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it. This is my place. This is where I belong.’”
Hertel is set to graduate this May.
A video of Omar and Hertel at the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee can be found on the Minnesota House of Representative’s website.