Susana Contreras-Mendez, M.A.

About Susana Contreras-Mendez

Susana Contreras-Mendez is a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), working on student parent success and other postsecondary education issues as part of IWPR’s Center on Equity in Higher Education. Susana came to IWPR with expertise in increasing equitable access, opportunities and success in early and postsecondary education.

Prior to joining IWPR, Susana was a Policy Intern at Lumina Foundation’s Washington, DC, office where she supported efforts to increase the attainment of high-quality credentials and postsecondary education. During graduate school, Susana worked to support the recruitment of diverse graduate students through Minority Serving Institutional partnership initiatives and the Summer Research Opportunity Program. For over three years, Susana was a program specialist at Denise Louie Education Center, a Head Start and Early Head Start program in Seattle, WA. As a former Head Start child, first-generation college student, and McNair Scholar she has first-hand knowledge on the impact of educational inequities and the benefits of a postsecondary education.

Susana holds a Master of Higher Education with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's dual degree from the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education, Learning and Society.

Evaluating the Role of Campus Child Care in Student Parent Success

To ensure student parents are wholly supported in their educational pathways, research is needed to understand the connection between quality, affordable child care and student parents’ academic outcomes. Yet several challenges persist that make rigorous study of this connection difficult. Drawing on interviews with campus child care directors and a review of data and relevant literature, this brief presents a snapshot of the availability and importance of campus child care services for student parent success. It concludes with recommendations to improve conditions for rigorous research on the role of campus child care in the outcomes of college students with children.

Child Care Access for Student Parents in Oregon: Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Educational and Economic Success

Access to affordable, safe, and reliable child care is essential to the ability of college students with children to pursue higher education. In Oregon, systemic challenges within the state’s child care and early learning system can make it difficult for student parents to find and pay for the care they need. This report describes findings from a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to describe the landscape of child care..

Busy with Purpose: Lessons for Education and Policy Leaders from Returning Student Parents

Postsecondary attainment is widely recognized as key to accessing living-wage careers—in addition to fulfilling workforce demands and elevating the United States’ standing on the world stage. While much of the work to increase attainment rates has recognized the role of reengaging adults who have some college credit, but no degree or certificate, less attention has been paid to the salience of parenthood in adults’ postsecondary experiences.

Congress Must Double Down on Pandemic Relief for Students Parents at Community Colleges

Congress needs to act now to support student parents and avoid further pandemic related educational interruptions by providing relief for those at community colleges.

By Susana Contreras-Mendez|2020-12-07T18:15:28-05:00December 7, 2020|In the Lead|0 Comments

Head Start College Partnership to Promote Student Parent Family Success: A Roadmap for Collaboration

Collaboration between colleges and Head Start programs holds promise for promoting the educational and economic well-being of college students with young children.

Prioritizing Student Parents in COVID-19 Response and Relief

Nearly four million U.S. undergraduate college students are parents or guardians of children under the age of 18. These student parents, who already faced immense financial, child care, food, and housing insecurity before the COVID-19 pandemic, are now dealing with multiple new barriers, including school closures, lay-offs, and child care disruptions, among other challenges.

Student Parents in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Heightened Need and the Imperative for Strengthened Support

Nearly four million undergraduates, or more than one in five college students, are parents of children under 18. These student parents face—in normal times— disproportionate economic insecurity, difficulty meeting basic needs, and significant time and caregiving demands. Yet, in spite of these challenges, they are also incredibly resilient.

By Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Susana Contreras-Mendez and Tessa Holtzman|2021-12-03T15:14:49-05:00April 15, 2020|Fact Sheet, Student Parent Success Initiative|Comments Off on Student Parents in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Heightened Need and the Imperative for Strengthened Support

Investing in Single Mothers’ Higher Education

Earning a higher education is increasingly necessary for achieving family economic security. For single mothers, who are more likely to live in poverty than other women, earning postsecondary credentials can bring substantial benefits, from increased lifetime earnings and employment rates to better health outcomes and chances of success for their children.

By Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Jessica Milli, Susana Contreras-Mendez, Tessa Holtzman and Barbara Gault|2021-01-27T06:04:03-05:00December 18, 2019|Report, Student Parent Success Initiative|Comments Off on Investing in Single Mothers’ Higher Education

Head Start-College Partnerships as a Strategy for Promoting Family Economic Success: A Study of Benefits, Challenges, and Promising Programs

DOWNLOAD REPORT Introduction and Summary Improving family economic [...]