Download PDF

An alumna and a student shared their experiences, sacrifices, and determination as mothers in their university years. 

Julia Magsombol | October 28, 2022

My grandmother on the right and my mother on the left. PHOTO BY JULIA MAGSOMBOL/Edmonton

Savannah Parker and Melissa of MacEwan University, are student mothers. Although they faced many hardships, they were determined to achieve their goals and dreams of completing their degrees. 

Parker started her journalism degree in MacEwan last 2017; her daughter was 11. Parker said that her daughter is independent and she didn’t need to take care of her as much. But that also has a downside. 

“I guess the worst part was… in order to be dedicated to my studies ….. I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I wanted to. And I didn’t get to be there for [her] in some important events,” Parker said. 

During her university years, Parker’s schedule was restless. Parker goes to classes in the morning, and during her spare time at university, she does her homework. She always gets home at 7 pm, just before her daughter’s bedtime. With the small amount of time they have at night, they would hang out and talk about their days. At night, Parker continues her schoolwork. 

“[It’s] not like a super healthy [schedule]. But that’s the way that worked for me.” Parker says. 

Similar to Parker, Bishop who started her journalism degree in 2014, also faced many challenges along the way. While pursuing her degree in 2019, Bishop’s second child was born. Bishop said she didn’t plan to get pregnant for the second time as she was studying but everything changed. So, Bishop stopped her studies for a while when she was pregnant last 2018. 

An image of Savannah Parker. Source: Savannah Parker

In the year of 2019 as well,  her mother and brother both passed away from suicide. Bishop said she gave birth to her son before her brother’s death. Less than 24 hours, Bishop said she witnessed life and death. While studying, Bishop needed to deal with these challenges. 

“During [my] university, it was stressful. It was hard,”  Bishop says. “It was a very difficult time.” 

Despite Parker and Bishop’s challenges, they had many reasons for continuing their education. 

Parker and Bishop both suffered from poverty in the early years of their lives, where food wasn’t enough, and assistance was needed. They both believed that education was the key to having a better life, job, and opportunities in the future. 

“I believe that I wanted better opportunities for my future. And that really propelled me forward,” Bishop says. 

“I just knew my whole life that I needed to go beyond that,” Parker added. 

Like Parker and Bishop, my grandmother was very determined to pursue college in the late ’60s, even when her mother tried to stop her because of poverty — and maybe the possibility of women not having any privileged to pursue an education at that time. I asked why she continued, and she said, “I want to learn. This is something I can pass on and give to my children” Of course, this advice and upbringing were passed on to my mom (on the left), which later passed on to me. 

Although a full-time mom who works full-time, my mother also decided to return to school this year; it’s a tough time. Sometimes, I questioned what pushed her through. What made many mothers pursue education, despite their busy schedules and many responsibilities at home? 

For Parker and Bishop, this degree is essential. This degree is a huge pride for them as both of them became and will become the first person in their family to have a degree. 

“I did have to put being a parent on the back burner for a little bit because it was just so important to me that I finished this,” Says Parker. Bishop also added that it “was very important for [her] to finish education.”  

In contrast with the education they received or are receiving, I asked if MacEwan University offers any help to student mothers. Parker and Bishop admitted that there isn’t much specific help, but they both got meaningful help from two inspiring professors in the communications department. 

Parker and Bishop had an opportunity to talk to those professors. And with those conversations, they were inspired to be motivated and continue to finish their degrees. 

Parker said that one of the professors told her to “[Learned to] lead by example. Your kids will be so proud of you when you are done…. [they’ll say] my mom did it in spite of everything else going on in her life.” 

Bishop learned something from the professor she talked to as well. She learned that education is important and this is also for her children. 

An image of Melissa L.A Bishop. Source: Melissa L.A Bishop

“It was very important for me to finish my education, not only for myself but as an example to my children…. to inspire them and to pursue the things that are most important to them, no matter what challenges or adversities life presents,” Bishop concluded. 

Bishop advises current student mothers to be prepared and expect to sacrifice many things in their lives, but also to continue at the same time as it will reward them well. 

But Parker also noted that the top “priorities [still should be] spending time with friends and family.” 

Parker graduated with a Bachelor of Communications Studies in Journalism last spring/summer of 2022. In the present time, Parker is trying to build her own company where people can have an appropriate equal balance of life and work. 

Bishop will graduate this Fall, 2022, with a Journalism degree. Bishop is also building a business plan where she can change the narrative of journalism with positive possibilities and inspiration — where she can tell stories of hope to people. 

An image of Melissa L.A Bishop’s family. Source: Melissa L.A Bishop

In the end, they are thankful for their supportive spouse, partner, kids, and family. After the interview with Parker and Bishop, I knew I should sit down and call my grandmother, the first woman who got a college diploma in her family. 

If anyone is interested in connecting with Parker and Bishop, below is their contact information and website: 

Savannah Parker:

Melissa L.A. Bishop:


%d bloggers like this: