Kayla Allen is a first-year nursing student at San Joaquin college and a primary caretaker for the disabled individuals in her family. Allen and her family have been taking in disabled children from the foster care system for years at hopes of giving them not only a better life through emotional care but medical care as well.
“Being a caretaker is what made me choose nursing school in the first place. It’s all I’ve known for the past 10 years and what better way to also improve their care, but to actually have a trained nurse in the house,” explained Allen.
According to an article by AARP, “Seven in 10 student caregivers reported that their caregiving duties impacted their ability to handle academic commitments.” Allen was seven of those 10 student caregivers.
“I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t easy being a caregiver when I was in high school because my schedule was less easy to work with since I had to be at school for a strict set number of hours every day,” Allen said.
Now in nursing school, Allen says there were days when the stress of being a first-year nursing student in a pandemic on top of caring for two disabled children really took a toll on her mental health.
“Sure, I had a more flexible schedule then before but being in a new fast-paced environment academically made me have to re-evaluate if I could really juggle both responsibilities,” Allen said regarding the beginning of her first year at nursing school.
Allen isn’t alone in this type of lifestyle. Three in 10 college students are either the parent of a minor child, the caregiver of an adult or both according to a January 29, 2021 article by Gallup.com .
“Am I stressed? Yes. Am I tired? Always. Do I regret taking on both these responsibilities? Absolutely not," Allen said. "Seeing them smile at me for doing the simplest of things on a day where I just feel like crying is what keeps me going in not only the direction I want for my future, but their futures as well.”