Women’s Center introduces support award for student mothers

When the BGSU Women’s Center decided to check into how many students were also mothers, the results surprised everyone, said director Dr. Mary Krueger.

The number of students who indicated on their FAFSA applications for financial aid that they supported dependents came in “right about a thousand,” Krueger said. And that probably does not even count graduate students, who often do not fill out the form. BGSU, like other universities, does not typically gather information on students who support dependents, she said, but the results showed a student population who could use some additional help.

To help support student mothers’ academic achievement, BGSU has created the Elizabeth M. Boyer Award for Student Mothers, a $1,000 award for undergraduate female students who have at least a 2.5 grade point average and primary custody for one or more minor children or adult children with special needs. The first award will be granted for the spring 2015 semester, based upon students’ application and narrative essay.

The Women’s Center, in 107 Hanna Hall, will celebrate the inauguration of the award from 4:30-6 p.m. Nov. 10 with a program including President Mary Ellen Mazey, Pat Bliss-Egan and Mary Egan, nieces of Boyer. The event is open to the University community.

“This is the first and only award of its kind at BGSU,” Krueger said. It is to be used specifically for expenses related to being a parent.

Student mothers and their children have been invited to the celebration and to submit applications for the spring semester.

Boyer (1913-2002) was a 1937 graduate of BGSU, an attorney and a champion for gender equality in education. The national organization she founded, Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL), for over 40 years rallied for equal educational and extracurricular opportunities for women in schools, equal job opportunities and training for women in the workforce, child support laws and their enforcement and the passage of the still un-ratified Equal Rights Amendment. WEAL played a significant role in the passage of the federal legislation known as Title IX.

The University held a two-day event in 2012 to honor the contributions of WEAL and Boyer, with feminist leader Gloria Steinem. The seed money raised at that event, plus a bequest from another founding member of WEAL, provided enough to create the award fund, Krueger said.