Linda Davis Valdez smiles broadly while giving her address. She is standing before a microphone on a lectern with a gold sign saying Adelphi University, New York.
Linda Davis Valdez '16, who received her bachelor's degree from Adelphi while raising children, delivering an inspiring keynote address at the ceremony honoring this year's winners of Mother-Scholar Child Care and Technology Awards.

Meet the four inspirational winners of this year's Mother-Scholar Awards, honoring parents who return to Adelphi, often through the College of Professional and Continuing Studies, to complete their degrees. Flexible scheduling and personal mentoring help create a sense of belonging and help these time-challenged students “stay on track to success.”

Being a college student and a parent at the same time is a tall order. Juggling classes and homework with child care and a job can be daunting and isolating.

Adelphi’s Mother-Scholar Child Care and Technology Award recognizes women navigating this challenge by awarding $1,000 each to four students who are seeking degrees while parenting children.

“This program recognizes everything mothers have to do who are balancing being a parent, being partners to their spouses and sustaining families while pursuing an education,” said Sandra Castro, PhD, associate dean of the College of Professional and Continuing Studies (CPCS). “It’s a scholarship to recognize their hard and mostly invisible work.”

The award money can be used to pay for tuition, books, child care, transportation or the technology they need to complete a degree. The scholarship program, now in its third year, is funded by Adelphi’s Women’s Giving Circle, which supports efforts at the University designed to bring about social and educational change.

Supporting mothers who are also students

Atisha Robinson holds her award certificate. Her partner is on her left, while three of her children—a two young men and a young woman—are at her right. The Adelphi logo is projected onto a screen that stands behind them.

Atisha Robinson, who is pursuing a BA in Social Science, at the award ceremony with her partner and three of her children.

“The CPCS mother-scholar scholarships bring the Women’s Giving Circle mission to fruition in our effort to create an equitable experience for mother-scholars by helping to alleviate the historical burden that mothers have had to carry when they return to school,” Dr. Castro said. “Many of these women are forced to work multiple jobs, leaving little time for studying or attending classes. Some also struggle to access child care, transportation and counseling—services essential to their academic success.”

To address these issues, CPCS provides wraparound services like academic advisement and events to help mother-scholars connect with one another and build a support network. “We want to create a sense of belonging for mothers so they feel like they belong on a college campus,” Dr. Castro said. “We help them see they’re going to get that degree and launch a professional career.”

These scholarships are part of a larger effort to serve nontraditional students at Adelphi, who make up a significant percentage of the enrollment, Dr. Castro said. “We are trying to create awareness about them and their needs,” she explained. “We have veterans, parents, people who are working full-time jobs, and they have very different needs than a traditional student. We want to help them stay on track to success.”

This year’s honorees

The winners of this year’s Mother-Scholar Awards were honored November 16 at a ceremony on campus that featured Linda Davis Valdez ’16 as a guest speaker. Davis Valdez got her BA in Social Science while she was parenting children, so she knows firsthand the challenges faced by women who return to college while they have family.

”Like you, I was a working mom, with a demanding career, a community leader who was raising three very active sons, trying to maintain a home life, all at the same time, while I was trying to finish the education that I started so many years earlier,” Davis Valdez said in her keynote address at the awards ceremony. ”I wanted to set the example for my children, that we don’t quit, we finish what we start!”

The four recipients of 2023 Mother-Scholar Awards—who, along with all the other moms in the audience, were recognized by Davis Valdez as ”the real MVPs, the most valuable person in your child’s life”—are:

Atisha Robinson

Atisha Robinson,who is the mother of six, is getting a BA in Social Science. “I was super nervous about balancing being in classes full time, working full time and keeping my family in order,” she said. “The good news is my mother, who is 75, has been my biggest cheerleader.” Robinson says she’s also had a lot of help from Adelphi. “How would I have overcome my obstacles without Adelphi providing me with a great adviser and support? Choosing to complete my degree has turned my house into an educational study home. I’m happy about my journey; my adviser and professors have been the best.”

Denise Hallinan

A portrait of Denise Hallinan, wearing a red dress and pendant.

Denise Hallinan, a mother of one who is pursuing an MS in Emergency Management.

Denise Hallinan is a mother of one who is pursuing an MS in Emergency Management. “I chose to go back to school so that I could have a better career opportunity,” Hallinan said. “I also chose to go back so that my son would see that an education is important for adults too, and to be an example for my son.” She’s glad her son sees her studying at night and working so hard for her degree. “Maybe I am teaching him something great so that he may become someone great who will make changes in this world,” she said.

Brenda D. Williams

Brenda D. Williams, mother to an infant daughter, is pursuing a BS in Business. She said becoming a parent motivated her to get a degree so she can start a consulting business. “I’ve come to grasp the importance of advancing my education to attain success,” she said. “A degree from Adelphi will arm me with the essential tools to reach my potential.”

Monika Goodwin-Ghee

Monika Goodwin-Ghee is mother to four daughters. She’s getting a BA in Social Science. She plans to keep going until she gets a PhD in Psychology and becomes a counselor to young people from low-income households and the elderly.

“We see this program investing in women as investing in our society’s future,” Dr. Castro said. “Studies show women who complete their undergraduate degrees are more likely to secure high-paying jobs and less likely to live in poverty.” The Mother-Scholar Awards have a multiplier effect. “When you help the mothers, you help their children,” Dr. Castro said. ”You change their future along with their mother’s future.”

Monika Goodwin-Ghee and Sandra Castro stand next to one another, both smiling for the camera.

Monika Goodwin-Ghee (right) is a student in the BA in Social Science. She is with Sandra Castro, PhD, associate dean of the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.

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