Balancing act

PHHP student forms group to support graduate student moms

By Caitlin Hartley
Melody Schiaffino leads a meeting of Ph.D. Moms at UF’s Corry Village, a residential facility for graduate and family housing.

Melody Schiaffino leads a meeting of Ph.D. Moms at UF’s Corry Village, a residential facility for graduate and family housing.

Staying busy has never been a concern for Melody Schiaffino. As a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of health services research, management and policy, her plate is constantly full. On top of that, she’s also a mom.

Schiaffino knows the struggle between being a good parent and being a good student, which is why she decided to create Ph.D. Moms. She formed the group to help other moms in situations like hers — striving to find the perfect balance between raising her 5-year-old son, while staying up late to write her dissertation.

Ph.D. Moms is open to all parents earning doctoral degrees, but the focus of the program will be on the needs of moms in graduate school. Schiaffino didn’t want to pretend to be able to address the needs of every graduate student parent. She also believes student mothers are at the greatest risk of attrition.

“More than anything, I want to provide that social support that is vital as we go through this,” she said. “You’re going to have a group that understands what you’re going through. The support that we can give each other is probably going to be the most valuable.”

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Spring 2013

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