Fink to direct MNE program for mothers

Rebecca Dunphy, Staff writer

Jackie Fink, director of Administration at Mercyhurst North East, has played several roles during her 25 years of service to Mercyhurst.

She will be taking on a new role as the director of the Mercyhurst North East Women With Children Program.

Women With Children is a new initiative beginning Fall 2018. Five single mothers will have the opportunity to attend MNE while raising their family on campus.

The program has a mission of offering a unique support structure for enrolled single mothers to successfully manage future academic and life challenges, as part of a campus community.

Nowadays, close to one in five women on college campuses are single parents, but many of these women never graduate.

Fink said she is excited to direct the new program and use it to empower economically challenged single mothers to further their education in a way that improves their life.

“In two short years, these single moms will have the potential to earn a degree and can be moving forward to successfully manage future academic, career and life challenges,” said Fink.

Fink is passionate about education and the impact it has on people’s lives, so the job seemed like a perfect fit for her.

“This role is something that has been in my soul for a very long time,” said Fink. “In the early 1990s, I hosted two foster children in my home, guiding those two children and a few others towards knowing that education will help them to achieve more in life than without. Education has always been my emphasis. I plan to continue emphasizing how important smart choices are to success.”

Even before being named as director, Fink had a large impact on the development of the program, and worked closely with Sister JoAnne Courneen over the past year.

“I felt that I knew and understood the program well enough to inquire about being the director,” Fink said, reflecting on her previous positions and experiences at the school.
“Various roles have allowed me to be involved with the continual growth of the campus, both academically and physically,” Fink said. “I have served on numerous committees, each playing a role to move the campus forward and/or celebrate the past. The continual change has made me adaptable to be involved in a multitude of ways to serve Mercyhurst and the students.”

Five townhouses at the far northwest end of the MNE campus have been converted to accommodate the new families. A common area to encourage social interaction and a fenced-in playground for the children are also among the plans.

In this new role, Fink will be crucial to the success of the program. She will be recruiting single mothers, programming and problem solving, among other responsibilities.

The Women With Children program will attempt to remove many of the roadblocks that have posed problems for single mothers in the past. Education will be enhanced by providing on-campus housing, academic and financial support, family enrichment programming, career services, counseling and a safe and secure environment.

The program is expected to be operational by July, just in time for the fall semester.

Fink looks forward to working with these women directly, and having their experiences and knowledge bring diversity to Mercyhurst North East.

She has high hopes for what can now be achieved with this program in place.

“My goal is to help the single mothers and their children to grow as a family unit, and to provide opportunities and support that will empower these mothers to achieve educational and personal growth,” she said.