Student and parent: combining the two

Sciences Po is proud to be one of ten academic institutions selected by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, to act as a “HeforShe Champion”. As part of the annual HeforShe Summit on 26 September 2018, Director Frédéric Mion will discuss actions taken by Sciences Po to advance gender equality, specifically work accomplished by the university on the question of parenthood. To mark the occasion, we are sharing the inspiring story of one of our female students: Camille Viros, recent graduate of the Class of 2018, and  mother of three children. How does she balance her student and family life? Read the interview on her experience at Sciences Po.

You have just graduated from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, and you are also a parent. Does it feel like an even greater achievement to have combined the two?

I think I am a graduate like any other and I do not feel more special. It is true that studying and having children can be challenging at times, but everyone has his or her own special circumstances that can complicate and/or enrich being a student.

What has been the greatest challenge about being a parent and student? Were there some pleasant surprises? Were you supported by your peers?

The main challenge was probably juggling family obligations with three small children and a full-time master’s programme with all the constraints it can have (essays to write, group assignments to coordinate, exams to prepare). I found it was not so different than being a working mother, but with the added difficulty of often having to study after the children’s bedtime or during weekends. Once I had found the right balance between my personal and student life, it became much easier.

There were also many nice things about being a student and a parent. For example, my girls would love to tell their teachers and friends that their mum was also going to school. I was also able to organise my classes at Sciences Po to be able to pick my girls up from school most days, and could often make myself available to assist parent-teacher meetings at my girls’ school. I also felt supported by professors at Sciences Po. Once I had to take one of my girls to the emergency room the same day a paper was due. With my husband away on a business trip, it was impossible for me to finish my paper on time. I explained the situation to my professor and he gave me an extension. 

Are there preconceived ideas or stereotypes around student-parents?

I did not feel at all judged by other students and did not find there were any negative stereotypes about being a parent-student at Sciences Po. Other students were often surprised when I told them I had three children, but they never put me in an awkward position – quite the contrary. I think there are more positive stereotypes about parents than negative ones. Other students often suggested that parents are well organised, efficient, and able to multi-task. I also think students with children can help promote greater acceptance and understanding of parenthood in the workplace in general, by showing fellow students that parents can be just as successful.  

Did you meet other student-parents during your studies? Is there a community at Sciences Po?

Yes I did meet other parents during my year at Sciences Po. In my MPA (Master in Public Affairs) class of 27 people there were four other parents, two fathers and two mothers. It was really great to meet other people in the same situation as me and we often joked about our parenthood stories, like having to deal with a sleep-resistant child while trying to finish a paper for a midnight deadline. There is no official community per se but Sciences Po has a very active gender equality unit. It also organises a yearly event called “Sciences Mômes”, a Parent-Child Day when staff and students can bring their children to the Paris campus. Group reflection on parenting issues is also organised for this occasion. I think it is really great that Sciences Po organises such events and it certainly made me feel part of a community.

What advice would you give to future students who are also parents?

Be organised! Try to gather people around you that you can count on and who can be on call: your partner, a grandparent, a nanny, etc. If you want to follow a programme at Sciences Po, just give it a go and have no reservations about doing it with children. It will be intense and demanding, but you’ll manage and it will be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. And besides, Paris is a fantastic city for children, with lots of international schools, day-care services, and an amazing healthcare system. 
 Good luck! And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any help or advice!
 
More information

Robots will never replace journalists

Robots will never replace journalists

Artificial intelligence was the keyword at this year’s New Practices in Journalism conference. Lisa Gibbs, AI Newsroom Lead at the Associated Press, answered our questions on the promise and the risks linked to robot journalism. For Gibbs, artificial intelligence should be welcomed as a means for journalists to bypass routine daily tasks, affording them more time to focus on the mission of their field: informing the world. Watch the video.

More
Live Q&A Sessions on our Master's Programmes

Live Q&A Sessions on our Master's Programmes

This November and December, the Sciences Po undergraduate college and seven graduate schools will run a series of live Q&A sessions. Tune in live to meet current Sciences Po students and graduate school deans and ask any questions you may have about admissions, education, financial aid, career prospects, life in Paris and more!

More
Animal Rights: slow but definite progress

Animal Rights: slow but definite progress

To mark International Animal Rights Day 2018, we take a look back over an interview with Regis Bismuth, professor at the Sciences Po Law School and co-editor of Sensibilité animale. Perspectives juridiques (CNRS Editions)* for an overview of advances in animal rights.

The need to end animal suffering has become a major topic of public debate. Scientific experiments, bullfighting and foie gras have all come under insistent criticism. Videos denouncing the conditions in which animals are made to live and die are widely circulated. Veganism, which still had an extremely limited following a few years ago, is gaining in popularity. So what is the law contributing to this environment?

More
This summer, experience college life at Sciences Po

This summer, experience college life at Sciences Po

Every summer, Sciences Po opens its doors to secondary school students from around the world as part of the Summer School’s Pre-College Programme. This programme is an opportunity to discover Sciences Po and experience college life and academics at one of France’s leading universities.

More
How much is tuition at Sciences Po?

How much is tuition at Sciences Po?

At Sciences Po, we believe that financial barriers should never get in the way of education. Tuition fees are relatively lower than other world-class universities as a result of our proactive social policy to be an open and inclusive university.

More
Witnessing the impact of education in Myanmar

Witnessing the impact of education in Myanmar

Thiffanie Rodriguez, a Master’s student in International Public Management at Sciences Po is passionate about education. Before finishing the last semester of her Master’s, she took a gap year to explore discrepancies in education worldwide. After an internship at the Directorate of Education of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), she completed another internship over three months in the Myanmar Country Office of the World Food Programme. Read her account of the experience.

More
A new master's in luxury marketing

A new master's in luxury marketing

Starting in September 2019, the School of Management and Innovation is launching a new Master’s degree in marketing entitled “New Luxury & Art de Vivre.” Taught entirely in English, the aim of this new programme is to train high-level marketing managers to master luxury and French art de vivre specifically, with a refined understanding of the sector thanks to a strong background in the social sciences and a clear strategic vision of the new trends in that sector: digitalization and a drive towards social responsibility and sustainability issues.

More
Gene-edited babies: China wants to be the world leader, but at what cost?

Gene-edited babies: China wants to be the world leader, but at what cost?

Recent claims of the world’s first gene-edited babies have sparked a strong response, to say the least. In particular, the Southern University of Science and Technology, which employs the researcher involved, He Jiankui, stated in a press release that they were not aware of his work, that it took place off campus, and that it was a case of potential scientific misconduct that would not go unaddressed.

More
Transparency and Accountability in Mainstream Media

Transparency and Accountability in Mainstream Media

Yochai Benkler doesn’t like the way the term “fake news” has been deployed by Donald Trump. In this video interview, he provides the original use of the term and discusses major challenges facing democracy, spurred not only by the under-regulation of mainstream media but in a context of deep economic security and identity threat.

More