Baby Steps welcomes pregnant, parenting students with open arms in midst of the great unknown

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) – Baby Steps exists to empower pregnant and parenting students at Auburn University by providing housing, support and community.

Cofounder and Executive Director Michelle Schultz says the ultimate goal of the program is to provide students who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies with support as they continue their education and raise their baby.

What Schultz and cofounder, her husband, Matt, did not know was that one June afternoon, a Baby Steps Facebook post would gain the attention of more than just those on or near Auburn University’s campus.

Baby Steps Mission

  • Empower a forgotten and underserved population.
  • Impact generations by changing the trajectory of young women and their children’s lives.
  • Play a vital role in spreading a groundbreaking organization to college campuses nationwide.

“We post all the time—Baby Steps has been here for five years this year and we do social media posts just about every day,” Schultz said.

Baby Steps is not an idea for Schultz and her husband – it’s a calling.

Michelle & Matt

More than 30 years ago, Schultz and her husband found themselves in an unplanned pregnancy during Schultz’s junior year at Auburn.

“In a moment of fear and anxiety—recognizing that I felt like my world was coming to an end and believing that I wouldn’t be able to finish school and have a baby—that my parents would never understand—that they would never forgive me. And not even listening to the voice of my husband now, Matt—who wanted to get married. In a moment of fear and doubt, I chose to terminate my pregnancy. From that—a lot of years of destructive behavior that I didn’t really understand.”

At the time, Schultz says there were no resources on campus that she was aware of that made it possible for someone to earn an education and have a baby.

After graduation, Michelle and Matt got married, experienced deep healing, and began sharing their story.

“Our eyes were opened to an overlooked, isolated population of people in desperate need of support,” Schultz said.

In 2013, the vision of Baby Steps was born.

“The reality of understanding that there are women that stand in that place every single day here in Auburn and across the country that are students—that we have a call and a responsibility to love them right where they are and give them encouragement and whatever resources we can, so that they can succeed as students, moms and families in the future.”

“Early on, we realized we cannot do all things, but we can sure connect student-moms to their appropriate needs,” said Schultz.

“We rely heavily on resources and gifts of others in order to support student-moms.”

Resources for resident Student-Moms

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them.

  • Housing & utilities
  • Childcare
  • Groceries & meals
  • Immediate and personal access to medical professionals (including, but not limited to an OB-GYN and pediatrician)
  • Professional counseling
  • 24/7 access to staff support
  • Weekly & monthly gatherings
  • Academic advising & tutoring
  • Resources for education grants & scholarships
  • Access to The Baby Steps Boutique (supplies including, but not limited to: diapers, wipes, car seats, bassinets, and baby clothing)
  • Education on relevant topics including, but not limited to, childbirth, child development, sleep training, nutrition, mental health, financial planning, and many other pertinent life skills
  • Support and community that instill confidence to persevere and excel as Student-Moms and future graduates

Resources for community Student-Moms

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women not living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them.

  • Weekly & monthly gatherings which include meals
  • Academic advising & tutoring
  • Resources for education grants & scholarships
  • Access to The Baby Steps Boutique
  • Education on relevant topics including, but not limited to, childbirth, child development, sleep training, nutrition, mental health, financial planning, and many other pertinent life skills
  • Support and community that instill confidence to persevere and excel as Student-Moms and future graduates.

Baby Steps has no affiliation with a political party or religious group.

Schultz says there are many ways that community members can serve at Baby Steps.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • College internships & practicums
  • On-campus student organization memberships
  • House and Community Dinner meal preparation
  • Life-skill teaching
  • Tutoring
  • Childcare
  • Fundraising event support
  • Handiwork in/around the Baby Steps home
  • Baby Boutique collection drives & organization

Kaitlyn’s Story

“I met Michelle in 2013—when she was searching for more information on if more students at Auburn were getting pregnant. I was working at a local nonprofit at the time. She brought the idea to me and wanted to know if there was a need for it on Auburn’s campus. I’ll never forget that meeting because I just started crying—that was my story.

When I was a junior at Auburn University, I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant. It was absolutely terrifying. I did not have the resources at the time. I withdrew. I stopped going to classes and was terrified about how I was going to juggle both of these things. At that point and time, I didn’t have the support of a man or my parents. I knew that if I decided to stay in school and finish my degree, I was going to be doing it all on my own. I ended up in Dr. Susan Hubbard’s office when I decided—I’m going to finish my degree—it doesn’t matter what it’s going to take, I’m going to do both of these things: have this baby and stay in school.

Dr. Hubbard really gave me the courage I needed to finish all of my classes. I still had another year to go, and she really helped me navigate what it looked like to talk to my professors and let them know what was going on with me, to make sure I was going to classes and let them know if my baby was sick.”

A little more than a year ago, Baby Steps started working on a plan for expansion. They desire to bring their mission to other college campuses. Schultz says they are making steps on a specific campus to start a pilot. For more information about expansion, Schultz says to subscribe to their email newsletter.

You can find more information on their website.

News Leader 9 will keep you updated as more details are available.

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