McCourt Parents Support Network Community celebrate Thanksgiving
Category: Centering Inclusion, Student Experience

Title: Graduating student-parents reflect on balancing their academic and personal lives

As the McCourt community has grown, so has its parent-student population, driving interest in community resources and guidance on everything from access to lactation rooms and child care to support groups. The newly created McCourt Parents Support Network is a growing resource for students who are parents to connect and share resources with one another.

Remington (Rem) Barnes (MPM’23) is a full-time student, parent and military service member, who will begin working at the Pentagon after graduating in May. Barnes joined the McCourt Parents Support Network to meet peers of similar backgrounds and exchange advice on balancing caregiving responsibilities with academics.

Rem Barnes (MPM'23) and his family
Rem Barnes (MPM’23) and his family

“As soon as I heard about the Network, I wanted to join,” said Barnes. “Although it is still new, the Network represents a real area for growth for McCourt. In the future, I would love to see members of the community advocate for additional resources, such as child care vouchers or more opportunities for student-parents to connect outside of the classroom.” 

According to Barnes, balancing classwork with parental responsibilities, being involved in the McCourt community and finding child care are some of the most common challenges for student-parents. “The Network may not address all of these challenges, but it provides an avenue for members of the McCourt community to connect on their shared interests and experiences,” he said.

Balancing academic pursuits while raising a child

For many student-parents, finding accessible and affordable child care can determine whether they are able to attend classes. Soon-to-be-graduate and founding member of the McCourt Parents Support Network Julie Gutiérrez Mariño (MPM’23) relied on her family and fellow classmates for support. She began the McCourt School’s Master of Policy Management (MPM) program when her son, Mateo, was just three months old.  

“I moved with my husband from Colombia to DC so we could both pursue master’s degrees,” said Gutiérrez. “When I started the MPM program, both my mother and mother-in-law traveled to DC to help take care of Mateo while I was in class.”

McCourt Parent Support Network and Professor Leng
Julie Gutiérrez Mariño and Mateo Esteban, second to the right, with MPM classmates and Assistant Professor Ning Leng, far right

During the Summer Institute, the foundation of the MPM program, Gutiérrez had to bring her son to campus with her. “I had to step out of class to breastfeed or breastfeed him in class,” she recalled. “The lactation room provided by the University was so far from my classroom that I often breastfed outside.”

“Being a strategic planner and an effective time manager is crucial for me to maintain a balance between my roles as a student and a mother. I learned early on that I needed to be efficient and organized with my responsibilities, and I chose not to compare myself to other students who were able to take advantage of more extracurricular activities and opportunities.”

– Julie Gutiérrez Mariño (MPM’23)

This spring, Gutiérrez and her husband, a graduate of Georgetown’s Master of Laws program, have been managing child care on their own. “It is so important to identify incoming student-parents and help them understand what hurdles they might face and the resources available to them at the University,” she said.

Julie Gutiérrez Mariño and Mateo Esteban
Julie Gutiérrez Mariño and Mateo Esteban, who has been dubbed the Master of Policy Management Class of 2023’s “class child”

Expanding support for a unique, and growing, student population

The McCourt Parents Support Network, which was initiated by McCourt School Director of Student Engagement Jaclyn Clevenger and Student Affairs Coordinator Keith Guerrant, is led by the McCourt Student Engagement team, with support from Trish Makovsky, assistant director of admissions, and the McCourt Student Association (MSA). 

“Our hope is that this Network will continue to grow this summer as we welcome our newest class of McCourt students and that it will help inform recommendations and create resources for future students who have to balance academic pursuits while also raising children,” said Clevenger. 

“I also hope that the McCourt Student Association might create a position to represent the community of student-parents and that more faculty and staff become involved as well,” she  said.