Image of Jacquelyn Martinez.

“I came to DVC with a lot of barriers that might have prevented me from going back to school. But thanks to the support I’ve received, I found ways to make it possible,” said Tara Lanoie.  

A single parent with two daughters, Lanoie chose DVC to take steps towards a career in social work. She enrolled in DVC’s addiction studies program and will also earn an associate in arts for transfer (AD-T/AA-T) in psychology. 

“Being in recovery myself, the addiction studies program gives me an opportunity to give back. During the pandemic, I enrolled in online classes to fulfill my dream of going back to school. But it can be challenging to go to school, work and manage a household, while keeping mental health in check,” said Lanoie.

Tara Lanoie

Tara Lanoie

Lanoie is aware that parents sometimes must miss school due to their children getting sick or withdraw from classes if they lose their childcare. She credits DVC and some key programs for helping fill in some of the gaps. 

“As a student parent, I can get priority registration to let me choose classes to fit my schedule. Through the CalWORKs program, I receive transportation support, and financial assistance with books and supplies. The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program provides supply kits, community support, tutoring, and community events. CalWORKs pays for my childcare so I can go to work and school. Through the Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) program, I receive study time childcare grants that help me to pay the out-of-pocket expenses of childcare and food for my family as well,” said Lanoie. 

Lanoie is a peer advisor for the EOPS program. This not only enables her to share her knowledge with other student parents; it also enables her to have valuable experience she can apply towards her academic and career goals. 

“I plan to transfer to Cal State East Bay to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and continue on to earn a master’s in social work. I would like to work with families and at-risk youth,” said Lanoie. 

Lanoie strongly encourages parents interested in continuing their education to consider DVC. 

“I truly feel that without the support I received at DVC, being a college student would not have been possible. Don’t let fear stop you from being the best you. You belong at DVC, and it is so worth it,” said Lanoie. 

Student parents belong at DVC 

“Community colleges attract a variety of students at different stages of life. Many students at DVC are adult learners who are also parents,” said Dr. Emily Stone, the dean of counseling and student success programs. 

Stone understands that finding a sense of community and belonging are key to academic success. This is especially true for student parents, who may be starting college for the first time, or may be re-entering college later in life. 

“Peer connections with students on a similar path are incredibly important for student parent success and retention. DVC offers a variety of programs and services to support student parents,” said Stone. 

Another way DVC is supporting students with children is by allowing them to register for classes earlier. This is due to new California legislation that added student parents to the first group of priority course registrants at community colleges.  

“This benefit is extremely valuable to parents, as they have unique scheduling needs, including coordinating classes with their working hours, childcare, and other commitments that make attending school a challenge,” said Gabe Harven, the director of admissions and records at DVC. 

DVC course schedules are available a year in advance, enabling students to map out their education plan. Programs and services that can provide support to student parents include: 

  • Priority registration – ensures that student parents can enroll in classes that fit their schedule 
  • CalWORKS - supports low-income students with transportation assistance, childcare assistance, textbooks, school supplies, job development resources, specialized counseling, workshops and events, and more 
  • EOPS – provides comprehensive retention and support services to low-income and economically disadvantaged students 
  • CARE program – supports low-income single parents through additional grants, school supplies, and more 
  • Children’s clothing swap/clothing closet – enables parents to share and swap clothing their children have outgrown 
  • Referrals to other campus resources including the DVC Children’s Center, DVC Food Pantry, CalFresh, Fresh Success, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, SparkPoint Financial Coaching, and more. 

Stone is also excited to announce the addition of Mamava lactation pods for both DVC Pleasant Hill and DVC San Ramon. Lactation pods provide private spaces for breastfeeding parents.  

“Students interested in using the lactation pods can register through an app, and then access the pods with a unique code provided to them. Our lactation pods are ADA-accessible and offer an innovative way to meet the unique needs of student parents,” said Stone.  

Stone also reports that DVC is expanding the number of restrooms with changing tables. This initiative, as well as the lactation pods, are made possible with Basic Needs funding. 

Upskilling to support her family 

Jacquelyn Martinez

Jacquelyn Martinez

Jacquelyn Martinez had been a stay-at-home parent while her husband worked as a security guard. She wanted to start working when her youngest child started school, but she wanted to gain additional skills to begin a career in business administration. She decided to enroll in online classes.  

“Unfortunately, my husband is no longer working due to being disabled from a back injury. Ever since that happened, I have been attending school and working on campus,” said Martinez.  

Like Tara Lanoie, Martinez had to overcome challenges she experienced as a student parent. 

“Finding a balance between family life and school while also finding time to study wasn’t easy. COVID was a huge challenge because I pretty much had to homeschool my children while attending school online and working from home myself,” said Martinez.  

Martinez feels that the support she’s received from DVC has been instrumental in helping her to achieve success. She has benefitted from priority registration, academic advising and counseling, financial assistance from CalWORKs, and childcare through the DVC Children’s Center Lab School.  

In May 2022, Martinez graduated from DVC with her associate degree in business, as well as a certificate of achievement in advanced general business, and certificates of accomplishment in management and leadership studies and small business management/entrepreneurship. She is currently working towards a certificate of achievement in computer information science – project management. While at DVC, Martinez applies her newly learned business skills on the job. 

“I worked in the DVC Applied and Fine Arts Division Office alongside the administrative assistant to the dean for over two years. I also captioned videos for the hearing impaired, and I’m now working at the DVC Children’s Center,” said Martinez.  

Martinez understands that parents sometimes wonder if they will be able to successfully manage family responsibilities while attending school. She knows from her own personal experience that it is possible to do so. 

“You can accomplish what you want in life while also teaching your children that it’s never too late to further your education and achieve your dreams,” said Martinez. 

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Did You Know? Tuition is free for eligible full-time students at DVC!  

If you are a full-time student at DVC, your tuition can be free for up to two academic years. To qualify: 

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) for the current academic year. 
  • Enroll in a minimum of 12 units per semester. 
  • Be a California resident or otherwise exempt from paying non-resident tuition fees. 
  • Students do not need to demonstrate financial need to qualify. Participants still need to pay for books, supplies and/or any materials fees required by their classes. 

Students do not need to demonstrate financial need to qualify. Participants still need to pay for books, supplies and/or any materials fees required by their classes. To find out more, visit