Student parents find home



When some UK students finish with classes for the day, their jobs as parents are just beginning. The One Parent Scholar House, until recently called the Virginia Place, provides housing to single parents who are also full-time students attending either UK or another area secondary school.

One Parent Scholar House director, Beverly Henderson, describes the House as offering, “support for single parents that are pursuing their degrees.”

The House offers on-site childcare and support services, and most residents do not pay rent. Henderson said the House, which used to be located on Virginia Avenue before moving to its current location near the Red Mile, has “a historic connection with UK of helping single parents get their education and become self-sufficient.”

The One Parent Scholar House is a complex with 80 apartments and a highly rated childcare facility. In order to become a resident, applicants must be at least 18, have their G.E.D., be full time students, have at least one child and be eligible for a Section 8 housing Certificate.

Residents must also have full custody of their children. Nearly all student residents are female. “We stay full,” Henderson said. “The need is there.”

The One Parent Scholar House changed everything for Meagan Bellamy. She said she struggled with feeling isolated while trying to attend school before moving into the House.

“Being a single mom you feel alone,” Bellamy said. “All the people around me were 18 or 19 and free as a bird. I didn’t even know single moms went to school very often. People told me to just quit school and get a job.”

But Bellamy was determined to earn more than minimum wage for herself and her son. She said she wanted to “have a good quality of life rather than just struggling at the bottom.”

At the One Parent Scholar House, Bellamy can bike to classes and leave her two-year-old son at the on-site Alberta A. Coleman Child Care Center. She is in the Blue Plus Program, which allows her to take UK classes and pay BCTCS tuition while studying dietetics.

K. Oliver moved into the One Parent Scholar House when she transferred from Kentucky State University to UK to work on her master’s degree. The House gave an affordable housing option for her and her son. “The family housing at UK is just astronomical,” Oliver said. “And you really need to have your own place as a mother and student.”

Both Bellamy and Oliver said it has been helpful living in a community with other mothers.

“It’s a very unique situation; there aren’t many places like it,” Bellamy said. “Instead of having party animal college student neighbors who are up all night, you have mothers who are studying.”

“It’s nice to be around people with common goals,” Oliver said.

Kim Livesay is Director of Development for the Hope Center, an organization which recently took over some of the administrative duties of the One Parent Scholar House. She noted that the House’s residents are different from typical college students.

“This group is different as far as their commitment level,” Livesay said.

Both Bellamy and Oliver are committed to working hard toward degrees.

“In order to be here it takes true dedication,” Oliver said. “We are not receiving a handout.” She explained that though the requirements are different for every resident, there are strict rules about working. Class time can sometimes count toward working hours, but every resident is required to work 20 hours per week and be a full-time student.

“What the government is doing is helping me get off assistance so I can be self-sufficient, and my son will be self-sufficient too,” Bellamy said. She plans to attend culinary school in New York and one day pay her son’s way through college.

Oliver plans to become involved with community programming and help convert her experiences into counseling for others.

“Giving up is not an option,” Oliver said. She said that student scholars cannot depend on their child’s other parent: “It’s you and the baby, and that’s how it goes.”

Though the task of being a single parent and full time student can be daunting, Bellamy and Oliver agree that the Single Parent Scholar House makes their lives easier. With the help the House gives them they are well on their way to self-sufficiency.

When they come home from classes, residents of the House have little motivators waiting.

“You aren’t going to school for yourself anymore,” Bellamy said. “You are going for your child.”