Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 21, 2014

NMC fundraiser aims to help parents stay in school

TRAVERSE CITY — It’s usually 9 or 10 p.m. before Ryan Byers starts his homework after spending the day juggling a job, college classes and caring for his two sons.

“Then I’m up to midnight or one o’clock doing homework,” Byers, 28, said. “Then I start the process over again.”

Byers’ days begin with waking before his son Rylan, 2, and getting him out the door in time for day care. Then it’s off to Northwestern Michigan College, where Byers works, takes classes and serves as president of the Student Government Association.

All that takes a back seat to being a dad, a trait Byers shares with other NMC student-parents, and countless more mothers and fathers who want to go to college but need help to get there.

“They have another life they have to make responsible choices for and they are caring for,” Byers said. “That has to come first and foremost, so a lot of parents don’t even go to school.”

Byers and other student government officials will host a fundraiser at the Dennos Museum Center today that aims to ease childcare burdens and get parents into classrooms.

The event is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and is called Making Children Matter. A raffle and silent auction will fund the student government’s Child Care Scholarship that helps students pay for child care.

The event also will help student-parents and prospective student-parents connect with child care resources in the Grand Traverse community.

Lisa Thomas, associate dean of student life at NMC, said students often visit her office in search of help with problems related to balancing the responsibilities of being a parent with being a student. It’s worth it in the long run, she said.

“It obviously is a door-opener to better job selection, higher pay and just the satisfaction of being able to complete a degree and move forward with other goals in your life,” she said.

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