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Monday, November 28, 2022

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Vanessa Cardenas shares a sweet moment with her daughters. Vanessa Cardenas shares a sweet moment with her daughters.

Better Future Moms

An SDSU student was selected as part of a California statewide initiative to recognize outstanding student parents.
By Chelsea Baer

The California Milk Processor Board, the creator of the Got Milk? Campaign, selected San Diego State University student Vanessa Cardenas as the recipient of the Better Future Moms award. The campaign’s purpose was to acknowledge influential mothers who are making a difference in their community.

“Vanessa is very humble,” said Robin Judd, director of SDSU’s Children’s Center, who nominated Cardenas for the award. “She was surprised that she was chosen to be recognized because she doesn’t realize how much she does.”

“I was shocked that I was chosen and inspired by the other women,” Cardenas said.

Got Milk donated $1,000 to the Children’s Center in Cardenas’ name. The Children’s Center Board of Supervisors and Cardenas are still deciding on how to allocate the funds, in order to benefit as many children as possible.

A Deserving Candidate

Cardenas’ hard work and determination as a student parent earned her the nomination. Cardenas is a full-time student and a mom to two daughters, Audrey and Kalea. Although balancing school and being a mom can be demanding, according to Cardenas, her daughters are her motivation for overcoming challenges.

“Cardenas is a mom who has encountered obstacles but never let them stop her,” Judd said. “She always pushes through for her kids and for herself.”

Cardenas and her siblings grew up in foster care. The hardships that she faced early on in life inspired her to create the future that she wanted for herself and her daughters.

“My inspiration comes from growing up without having people around,” Cardenas said. “It is important to me that my daughters always feel they have someone to go to.”

Cardenas is earning her bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in child and family development. With the help and support of SDSU’s Children's Center, Vanessa has been able to accomplish her goals.

A Second Home

The SDSU Children’s Center was opened in 1971 by a group of women, with funding from Associated Students. What began as a parent co-op is now a thriving Children’s Center that accommodates student-parents, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. The center introduces children to education early on, through activities that promote physical, social and intellectual growth.

“We are here to help parents achieve their goals,” Judd said.

Cardenas’ daughters, Audrey and Kalea, have developed social and cognitive skills at the center “They are always welcomed with a bright smile and open arms,” Cardenas said. 

Cardenas is serious about quality care; she engages with staff from the Children’s Center and learns from them.

“The main reason why I am still in school is because of the help I have received from the Children’s Center.”

After graduation, Cardenas hopes to work at a Children’s hospital as a social worker.

Cardenas has some advice for other student parents, “Stay positive and be good role model for your children.”