At first, the going was tough for Tifarah Jackson.
After her freshman year at Northern Illinois University, a long way from her former home in Harvey, and with a new baby boy in her arms, she needed help in order to stay in school.
She found it, and 12 years and two degrees later, Jackson and her friend Sharron Bugg are paying it forward.
Together they co-founded Momma’s Village, a group that provides mentoring, programming and support for young DeKalb-area teens as well as resources for young mothers. For more information on the organization, see www.mommasvillage.webs.com or call 815-230-1880.
Daily Chronicle reporter Chris Burrows sat down with Jackson to talk about where she’s been and what she’s doing.
Q: What were some of the challenges that you faced as a young mom going through college?
A: Actually I had my son after my freshman year of college, and I guess the hardest thing was that you have to find a place to live. You have to figure out finances as far as food, because you now have an extra person to feed, so those were some of the obstacles. And then you have to think about child care, because how am I going to go to class if my child doesn’t have a place to go, so luckily I found a lot of resources in the community and was able to go to college.
Q: How do you think things have changed for girls nowadays who might be in that same position?
A: It’s a little bit harder now, because things have gotten a lot more expensive, and people aren’t aware of a lot of the services. That’s one of the things that I had to seek out. I didn’t necessarily know that there were certain services available, but once I started looking I found them.
Q: Why do you think it’s important that young women make education a priority?
A: I think education is important because it helps you get further in your life, and it gives you a background as far as helping your child when they get older and are school-aged. Education gives you something to look forward to. It’s something that you can be proud of, that they went to school and accomplished something.
Q: How did you and Sharron Bugg come up with the idea for Momma’s Village?
A: We were working together, and we were just talking one day about things that we wanted to do in the future, and she mentioned that she had worked with young moms and her mom had worked with young moms, and I was actually thinking of counseling young moms. I was in the counseling program at NIU, so we kind of put the two ideas together, and figured out that it was something that we both really were passionate about, and so we decided to set up the program for Momma’s Village.
Q: What services do you provide for young women?
A: Right now, for all young ladies, we have a mentor program. It’s not limited to just young moms. For the young moms we do resource and referral as far as connecting them with services in the community, and we’re hoping to expand on that to become a little more bit in-depth with our young moms program.
Q: How does it make you feel to be able to help women that were in a position like yours?
A: It makes me feel good, because a lot of the young moms feel that they can’t go to school and that they’re just stuck where they are because they’re in that situation, but it’s good for me to be able to tell them, no, you can do it. There’s a lot of stuff here that can help you, and help them really see that they can achieve their goals even though they’re going through something that’s kind of rough.