Michal Bennet-Smithis a third-year biology student at Florida A&M. She is also a single mother to her 4-year-old daughter Simone.
Her journey has been influenced by her willingness to adapt along with herdetermination.
Bennet-Smith completed her associate degree from her community college in her hometown of Sarasota. Bennet-Smith then enrolled at the University of South Florida, where she would eventually become pregnant.
“Around this time I had my own place and I was really experiencing the adventure of being a mom,” Bennet-Smith said. “It was hard but I was learning.”
She took her mother’s advice and moved to Tallahassee to start her life before bringing her daughter there. In Tallahassee, she would truly be put to the test.
“I came here on a leap of faith,” Bennet-Smith said. “I was lost and I didn’t know anybody. It was really a transitioning period for me.”
After her first year at FAMU, Bennet-Smith purchased her first home and started to raise her daughter.
“She is actually the first person I met at FAMU. She is someone that is very determined and she wanted to build a good home for her daughter when she got here,” said fourth-year history education major Jimmie Starkes. “Now that I look at her she did just that. She prioritized what it is important to her in her life and she showed a lot of ambition and it speaks a lot about her character and her values.”
Bennet-Smith also highlighted the need for men to acknowledge the fact that although single mothers work extremely hard , they still need their support.
“Sometimes the narrative that we are the strongest of them all can be misleading,” Bennet-Smith said. “Because of the things that I do have some people would think that I have it all together when they don’t know the work that was put in to get here. We shouldn’t be taken for granted, when you are a mother there are certain things that you have to sacrifice. Ultimately we want people to check on us too”
According to The Institute For Women’s Policy Research, only 28 percent of single mothers are likely to graduate from a four-year institution in comparison to 40 percent of married mothers and 57 percent of women who do not have children.
Although Bennet-Smith sees where improvement can be made, she sees the impact that men do have and is appreciative of what they are capable of doing.
“Men are so much more than what their pockets are or whatever stereotype that is placed on them,” Bennet-Smith said. “It starts with us as a community first so we must show our men love as well.”
Bennet-Smith attributes the need for “discipline and structure” to achieve any kind of success.
“This is the time for me to become more financially wise, and work on everything I can so that I will leave a legacy for my children,” Bennet-Smith said. “I would tell every single mother that they should look into the future with their decision making.”