Westmont Magazine My Mother the Student
One member of the Westmont Parents Council clearly understands the concerns of college students. Tanya Hoover spent the last year as a full-time college student herself, completing a B.A. in sociology at the University of Idaho. She is also the mother of two college students: Ryan ’00 is a psychology major at Westmont, and Laurel studies architecture at DeKalb College in Georgia.
“It’s fascinating to be in college at the same time my children are,” Tanya states. “We compare notes, and Ryan has told us how well Westmont integrates faith and learning. Since Laurel and I attend secular schools, we have had to introduce a spiritual dimension to our education ourselves. This is one way our experiences have differed from Ryan’s.”
To develop theological tools she can use as a sociologist, Tanya will pursue a master’s degree in religion at Yale Divinity School in the fall. She will explore the historical substance of Christian tradition and how to apply it to critical social problems existing today. She will then study public policy and administration at the University of Syracuse and acquire an M.P.A. Combining these two programs will prepare her for a career in policy design and analysis and help her apply sociological theory to the real world of social need.
Her journey toward this goal has been adventuresome. After a divorce left her a single mother, she looked for a way to support herself while spending as much time as possible with her young children. An accomplished and creative seamstress, she started her own costume design business in her home to make clothing for theatrical productions and historical reenactments at national parks. She loved this work, and the venture proved to be successful. But as her children grew older, she needed to be home in the evening helping with homework, not working in the theatre.
Tanya kept the business going by using subcontractors and took a day job managing volunteers at a rehabilitation hospital. Then she became the service learning coordinator for the University of Idaho, encouraging students to do internships and community service. This job confirmed her interest in the practical application of learning and theory.
Once she completes her graduate work, Tanya hopes to pursue policy initiatives such as helping single mothers return to school and find work. “I’m interested in issues related to justice and equity and the cultural and structural components of poverty and applying the outstanding Christian resources that exist.”
Meanwhile, she intends to represent single-parent families on the Parents Council. “I believe 100 percent in the role and mission of Westmont, and I want to do anything I can to reinforce it,” she explains. “I also want to support Jane Higa, [vice president for student life], who has done an outstanding job of attracting a more diverse student body. I hope to see more scholarship money set aside for minority and first-generation college students at Westmont.
“I encourage Council members to expand their concerns beyond the traditional two-parent families,” Tanya adds. “Let’s reach out to single parents who desire a Christian education for their children. I’m thrilled with the experience Ryan is having and the friendships he has made, and I want to see other students benefitting in the same way.”