You spend the morning at work, then leave to attend your classes.
You go back to work, then pick up your child from daycare, only to find yourself loaded with homework and other responsibilities.
That is the reality for millions of undergraduate students.
According to a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 26 percent of undergraduate students are raising dependent children.
Of these 4.8 million students, 71 percent are women, and 43 percent are raising their children alone.
This is the case for N.C. Central University senior Andrea Thornton-Briscoe.
“I messed up in high school, and I didn’t have any focus,” Thornton-Briscoe said.
She discovered she was pregnant one month after graduating from Franklinton High School in Franklinton, northeast of Durham.
Before her son, Jayden, was born, Thornton-Briscoe realized that his father was abusive, and she pulled out of the relationship.
“I knew that I didn’t want my son to see things like that and think that it was acceptable,” she said.
But Thornton-Briscoe was determined to keep her life on track.
She enrolled at Fayetteville State University, and Jayden was born during the spring semester while she was taking online courses.
After a year, she transferred to NCCU, where she is now mass communication senior with a 3.1 GPA.
She has earned a prestigious internship at Duke University and is a member of the mass communication honor society — all while working 30 hours a week and raising 4-year-old Jayden.
Her goal is to work on the air for Radio One in Raleigh.
Eventually, she said, she wants her own syndicated show.
Thornton-Briscoe was raised in a supportive, two-parent family and said she is determined to provide Jayden that same comfort.
“But it’s a challenge,” she said. “I always do twice as much as I feel a normal parent would because I don’t feel that Jayden should go without just because he is growing up in a single parent home.”
And her life is hectic, to say the least.
There is no time for procrastination and little free time.
Thornton-Briscoe is taking 12 credit hours. She lives in with her parents in Franklinton, a 45 minute commute to Durham.
And she works at a fast food restaurant in Roseville, even farther from NCCU.
But she says it’s all worth the sacrifice.
“It’s either we have money to enjoy life and I sacrifice being with Jayden every moment,” she explained, “or I sit at home and do nothing all day, which isn’t me.”
As much as she has struggled as a single parent, Thornton-Briscoe says she wouldn’t change anything.
“Before having Jayden I knew I wanted to be successful in life, but I didn’t have the motivation.
Having Jayden has forced it within myself to succeed,” said Thornton-Briscoe.
And when she does find a few free minutes on the weekends, she spend them with her son.
“Usually it’s taking him and his cousins to Chuck E. Cheese’s or Adventure Landing.”