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Brinita Ricks, 20, middle, a Wilson College senior is getting attention from five-year-old son Troy Ricks, right, and Bella Smith during dinner at the Jensen Dining Hall Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Dana Hill, 26, walks past on the right, while Hill’s daughter DaNya Ford, 7, eats, left. Ricks, Hill, and Bella’s mother Whitney Gress take advantage of the Chambersburg Penn., all-women’s college’s “Women with Children” program while pursuing their degrees.
Earlier this month Erica Lusk called me to shoot a wonderful story for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Brinita Ricks and her son Troy are just two participants in Wilson College’s Women With Children Program.
I was raised by a single mom. And like most kids in this program, I’m an only child, too.
My mom and I were a duo. Sometimes a team, sometimes each others’ spoils, but regardless of how aggravated we got, we were always good to each other. After all, we were all we had.
To some, this life might seem tough, and overwhelming — which it is — but I have such fond memories of my childhood. And I know these kids will too.
There’s a lot of happiness in those dorm halls. And as stressful as raising a kid, studying, and working is, these women are surrounded by a sympathetic community of fellow single moms.
So, throughout this assignment, I kept looking for moments that felt familiar to me. I felt a connection to Troy and the other kids. I had a pretty good understanding of their motivations, their boundary curiosities, their need to burn off excess energy, despite their mom’s pleas for order.
But, y’know… I’m an adult too. — an adult with hindsight. I know what I put my mom through. …but I also know how much I loved my mom as a kid. I mean. I still love her as an adult. It’s different. My love has evolved and become more complex, and in many ways is stronger. As an adult I respect and admire my mom. After all, we have a past. …I mean, I was a teenager, for Christ’s sake! And those ties are made through slow, heavy, and sometimes painful processes. A five-year-old’s love is visceral. I’d be willing to bet Troy doesn’t know why he loves his mom. …I know I didn’t. But I did love her. — unconditionally.
And lets be honest… A five-year-old’s hug is probably one of the most authentic forms of emotional expression. They hug because they want to. And they hug who they like. — unless directed to do otherwise.Brinita Ricks, 20, walks the rainy Chambersburg, Penn., campus covered by her five-year-old son Troy Ricks’s child-sized Elmo umbrella. Brinita Ricks, 20, usually studies in lobby of her dorm Prentis Hall, while she waits for her five-year-old son Troy Ricks’s to get home from Kindergarten.
Brinita Ricks, 20, right, greets her five-year-old son Troy Ricks, as he walks off the school bus at the edge of Wilson’s campus Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Troy’s classmate Jashad Coles, 5, holds the hand of his mother Christin Warner, a twenty-two-year-old junior at Wilson College who is studying Economics.
Brinita asked Troy to take their dirty dishes to the dishwasher, Sterling Keyes. On the way, Troy spilled some spaghetti on the floor. So, he came back to their table, grabbed some napkins, and cleaned up his mess.Children from Wilson College’s “Women with Children Program” (L-R) DaNya Ford, 7, Bella Smith, 4, Jashad Coles, 5, and Troy Ricks, 5, play on the furniture in the Prentis Hall lounge after dinner Tuesday, September 6, 2011. The all women’s college located in Chambersburg, Penn., is one of the few remaining women’s colleges left.Wilson College’s new president Dr. Barbara Mistick, standing, threw an informal meet-and-greet for the “Women with Children” participants and their children titled “Popsicles with the President,” Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at Prentis Hall, in Chambersburg, PA. The new President brought her dog to meet the kids. I think he got a little overwhelmed with all the affection.I know. I know. There are a lot of photos in this edit. …BUT if you want to see EVEN MORE PHOTOS from this shoot, check out my archive gallery:
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