On-campus program supports pregnant college students: ‘It put me on the right path’


At age 19, Grace was taking a gap year between high school and college, unsure of the career path she wanted to pursue. She spent that year living on her own, working as a nanny, and “living a party life.” Then, she found out she was pregnant. Abortion was off the table, and the pregnancy was an awakening for her to shift gears and earn a degree in order to provide for her baby.

She wasn’t sure how she would do it until her mother learned about MiraVia, an on-campus maternity home that could help Grace care for her baby and achieve her education goals. In a post-Roe world, it’s programs like MiraVia that are proving women don’t need abortion in order to achieve their goals. 

“I was lucky to have a supportive family but they didn’t have the resources to help me and my son the way I needed or wanted,” Grace told Live Action News. “It gave me an opportunity to start fresh in a new place and with more of a determination to go to school and get a degree for my child for what our future would look like. It put me on the right path and absolutely changed my life. Coming to MiraVia started me on a harder journey — but so much better, so much more fulfilling.”

What is MiraVia?

MiraVia is a pro-life pregnancy care center that offers a residence for expectant mothers on the campus of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina.

MiraVia at Belmont Abbey College.

“MiraVia provides an on-campus residential home at Belmont Abbey College, but open to students from any school. They can come and stay with us free of charge until their child turns two. In that time, they are receiving free housing, meals, childcare, case management, referrals for services, and making sure they are receiving prenatal care — all in an environment where they are living in community with other young women going through the same thing,” Debbie Capen, director of MiraVia, told Live Action News. “That’s one of the things they value the most — that feeling that they aren’t isolated. They are able to be pregnant and parenting students with newfound friends that they take with them through the rest of their adult lives.”

The residential housing can accommodate up to 15 women and their children at a time. Each mom has her own private room with her own kitchenette, and they all share a communal dining room. After meeting with a pregnant mother, Capen and her team determine if she is a good fit for the program. They then work with the expectant mother to set goals toward independence and to make plans with her in increments of 30 days, 60 days, six months, and beyond regarding her education and independence. Each plan is unique depending on the woman’s goals, but 100% have gone on to find stable housing after they graduate from the MiraVia program, which was first incorporated as “Room at the Inn” in 1994 before rebranding as MiraVia in 2013.


Inside MiraVia, each woman has her own private room.

MiraVia also runs a center in Charlotte that offers a year-long program providing material assistance to expectant and new moms. It offers a life skills class and provides diapers, baby items, car seats, strollers, and anything it can provide to help relieve the stress the mothers are facing.

The acceptance and enrollment process

Capen explained that when the girls first call MiraVia, likely after receiving a referral from a friend or family member, they are usually in a state of shock and facing strong fears about their futures. They may feel pressured to make a hasty decision, and Capen explained she has noticed a pattern in which the women come through the doors for the first meeting in tears, but once the meeting is over, the heavy weight of fear has been lifted off their shoulders. They can imagine a good life and come to the realization that having a baby is not the end of the world. Some women don’t decide to join the program, but learning that such support exists gives them the opportunity to take a breath and realize that a lot of their fears are unfounded.

When Grace learned about MiraVia, she says she “jumped right on that ship.” She said, “It was perfect. I moved to North Carolina right away and then when I moved in, I had the typical fears. It’s a lot. You’re definitely overwhelmed and there’s a lot going on emotionally and physically, but they were there to support me through it all. They had all of the resources that I could possibly need at my disposal and they immediately offered their services. It did not take long for me to feel right at home.”

In addition to the services provided to pregnant mothers by MiraVia, Belmont Abbey allows women in the program to attend classes tuition-free through a tuition assistance program. “Belmont Abbey is setting an example that they want pregnant college students to be able to choose life and continue their education,” said Capen.

Each room features a kitchenette.

An abortion redemption story

Capen has her own personal story regarding unplanned pregnancy during college. That pregnancy ended in abortion, which caused her immense emotional suffering and ultimately fueled her desire to help women in similar situations confidently choose life.

When Capen learned she was pregnant at age 18, she felt paralyzed. She had lost her father at the age of 13 and knew her mother was working hard to send her to college. Those around her kept telling her to have an abortion, and the nurse at the campus health clinic did not provide her with support, simply telling her to search the Yellow Pages for abortion.

“I can remember that walk back to the dorm from the health clinic,” said Capen. “I realized I was alone and I didn’t see any resources for me. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.”

She continued, “Everybody said abortion was easy. I looked it up in the Yellow Pages and called and made an appointment. At first, I thought I felt relief because I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t want to be pregnant and abortion would make me un-pregnant’. But it didn’t make me not pregnant. It made me the mother of a dead child. Once that realization hits, you feel like you can’t even look at yourself.”

A member of the MiraVia community.

Capen found her way back to her faith in God and years later, she attended a banquet for what was then “Room at the Inn.” When the organization announced at the banquet that it was opening an on-campus facility, Capen nearly jumped out of her seat. She could see that this organization understood what pregnant women in college need.

“I called the next day to ask how I could help,” she said. “So I gave my testimony at the next banquet. My husband, he knew about the abortion, but really nobody else knew. God has used my story in so many ways. Eventually, it led me to get active in the pro-life movement with Charlotte Right to Life. When they had an opening in the staff [at MiraVia], they reached out to me. It’s been a blessing ever since to be a part of.”

An invitation to apply

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a significant drop in enrollment in the MiraVia residency program as colleges went online, and now the organization is working to get its information out to the women who need the services they offer. There are currently rooms available and the basic requirements are that the pregnant mother be at least 18 years old and enrolled or planning to enroll in some type of post-high school educational program. That could be anything from firefighter school to esthetician school to a Master’s Program. The young women cannot be dealing with any active addictions or have a history of violent crime. Interested expectant mothers are invited to call MiraVia about an application.

“I was given the two and a half years free of debt, free of worrying how to pay rent, how to pay for baby things,” said Grace. “I was able to focus on raising my son, working to save up, and going to school so that when I moved out, I could support myself fully.”

A graduate and her daughter.

Since the first pregnant mother was admitted into the residential program at what was then “Room at the Inn” in December 1994, 590 mothers have graduated from the program. MiraVia’s non-residential outreach programs, which were established in July 2004, have served more than 10,755 women and children. In 2017, MiraVia received national accreditation through the Council on Accreditation. Not funded by the government, MiraVia fundraises throughout the year through its annual banquet, golf tournament, direct mailings, support from churches, and grants.

Grace’s son is now five years old. After graduating from the program, she secured housing for herself and her son. She met her now-husband and welcomed a second son, with a baby girl due to be born at any moment. About a year after graduating, Grace began working at MiraVia as a residential supervisor. She calls her time as a member of the program, “the most monumental three years of my life.”

For more information or for an application for a student mother, please visit or call 704-525-4673. 

Did you know that as little as $10 a month is enough to reach more than 3,000 people with the truth about abortion that no one else is telling them? Click here to start saving lives 365 days a year.


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