Finding the right support on campus

UD Campus Ministry helping with unplanned pregnancies for over 30 years. Photo courtesy of the University of Dayton.

Tori Miller | News Editor

Each and every student faces a variety of decisions throughout the college experience, some of which are more difficult than others. UD has a multitude of support groups to help the specific needs of students in particular situations– even if that situation is an unplanned pregnancy. 

For over 30 years, the Hand in Hand program has worked confidentiality to assist and support single students experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Alongside Campus Ministry, the program provides anything from emotional support to academic accommodations ensuring that students can reach their educational goals during and after pregnancy. 

The program’s origin dates back to 1989 with Sr. Mary Louise Foley and a Campus Ministry graduate assistant. Their main vision was to uphold the university’s Catholic and Marianist mission and identity while assisting pregnant individuals during a troubling time. The program follows and is named after Bishop John D’Arcy’s call to “stand with women at this time of decision, to pray for them and to walk hand in hand with them,” written in the 1985 Pastoral Letter in Defense of Life.

Hand in Hand’s coordinator and Campus Minister of South Quad Bridget Ebbert took charge after Sr. Mary Louise’s retirement. She believes the program helps students depending on their specific needs and is another way community is present through UD. 

“I think it’s important to help students with the experience of being single and pregnant at UD,” Ebbert said. “We want to support them so they can continue their education and so they don’t have to make a choice to leave.”

Resources are made available to students through the many on- and off-campus partnerships. 

According to Ebbert, the Counseling Center is one of the biggest partners for providing a free, confidential and covered service for undergraduate students. The Health Center is also a crucial on-campus resource offering students family practice options such as pregnancy testing, initial consultations and referring patients to OBGYN’s close to campus. 

A major off-campus resource is the Women’s Centers of Ohio and Miami Valley Women’s Center, which provides free services– such as early ultrasounds as well as referrals to other support services. Our UD Women’s Center partners with Hannah’s Treasure Chest. As a local agency in the greater Dayton area and a generous partner according to Ebbert, Hannah’s Treasure Chest allows students to request items such as furniture, bedding or clothing to aid in the pregnancy and raising a child.

As a Catholic, Marianist community, Hand in Hand aims to provide an environment of acceptance and love through emotional support, counseling, pregnancy testing, academics and more.  

“Students should reach out and let someone know to help support you,” Ebbert said. “There are many avenues they can do that through. There’s a lot of support to help a student through as they’re facing the challenges.”

To seek support or to refer a student to the program, contact Bridget Ebbert, Anyone interested in supporting the program can give to Campus Ministry with a comment directing the gift for Hand in Hand.

For more information check out these resources: 

Pregnancy and Childbirth Assistance : University of Dayton, Ohio

Support Groups – Campus Ministry

‘Hand in Hand’ supports students in unplanned pregnancies : University of Dayton, Ohio

About Us – Hannah’s Treasure Chest

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