Carol Merrill knows firsthand what it's like to be a single mother going to college.
Merrill, now the director of the Women's Center at Weber State University, got her college degree while raising her own tots several years ago. She started a support group on campus for single moms to get together to share ideas.
"That was 14 years ago and the group has just flourished," Merrill said. "The group was initially called The Divorce Group, but because there are situations where couples aren't married or are in same-sex relationships, we changed it to the Relationship Separation Support Group."
As time went on, the names continued to change to fit the Women's Center's mission. Today, the group is called the Single Moms United support group. The goal is to reach out to single mothers and provide them with educational resources and a support network of other single mothers.
"This group isn't just for single mothers attending Weber State University. It's for the entire community," Merrill said. "The group has changed dramatically. We hold workshops and bring in experts in the field to talk to them, they exchange creative ideas with each other and learn of ways to become educated while raising a family on their own."
A new workshop series will begin on Jan. 13 and run through March 3.
Topics on the agenda address networking, parenting, setting a budget and more.
"We're going to tackle topics that are most relevant to the struggles and challenges that single moms face," said Sarah Stanton, counselor advocate at the Women's Center. "The workshop, including materials, is free of charge and open to single mothers on campus and throughout the community."
Merrill said she has seen, on a daily basis, single mothers who are struggling to balance school, work and family.
Many of them feel guilty and selfish for taking the time to better themselves.
"When you are the sole supporter, it's a tough act to balance, and a lot of women feel guilty about taking time for themselves to get an education, but there are so many ways they can include their children and teach them the importance of working and studying hard," she said.
"When a child can watch a parent make sacrifices, it becomes a win-win situation."
WHAT: Single Moms United support group
WHEN: 12:30-2 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 13
WHERE: Room 331, Shepherd Union Building, Weber State University campus, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden
INFORMATION: Group is free. Call (801) 626-6090 to sign up.
Jan. 13, Networking and Relationship Adjustment
Jan. 20, Relationship Adjustment Continued
Jan. 27, Goal Setting
Feb. 3, Creating a Budget on a Limited Income
Feb. 10, Mind and Body Relaxation
Feb. 17, Parenting with Love and Logic
Feb. 24, Dating Again?
March 3, panel and graduation