Sure you could say that I’m just another girl that became a parent too young. That having a baby at 16 years old made me grow up too quick. That taking care of a child while going to school was too difficult a challenge. Who was I to overcome the statistics, the stigma, and the doubts to beat the odds?
Yes, I was sixteen when my son was born. Yes, having a baby made me grow up quicker AND yes, the combination of going to high-school and college and being the sole provider for my child was a very difficult challenge–but I’m here today to tell you that I am stronger because of it!
Who was I to beat the odds? In fact that’s an excellent question. From all the stigma, statistics, and stares; I could ask myself that same question. The truth at the very least is that I did it for my son and myself. I am not super woman, I am not a genius, I am not invincible to pain and stigma—I just had to overcome it. I did four basic things that got me to where I am here today; dreamed, planned, believed, and achieved.
In high-school, I was involved in soccer, wrestling, the drama club, chorus… the list could go on. I was a normal girl that fit in everywhere and knew everyone. I loved high school; I excelled both academically and socially. My life seemed great, right? Well, let me tell you the cold harsh truth. I was an outcast in my family. At home I had no one that understood me or said “I love you” or “I’m so proud of you”. This hurt me and the emptiness created a hole.
I started to date this boy and he became my best friend—we were totally head over heels with emotions of acceptance and mutual feelings about what family should be. He was the first boy that I fell in love with and I allowed him to consume my life. As the relationship progressed I saw sides of him most people didn’t see. He said he loved me… I got pregnant with his son.
We didn’t last long. In fact he basically “jumped off the band wagon” of loving me when he realized I was keeping the baby, that I wasn’t going to quit school, and that I wanted him to be as active with our son as I was… He dumped me for another girl.
I was still pregnant, a sophomore in high school, and now homeless. I moved into his relative’s house and stayed with his step mom and sister until I finished high school. In that home, I felt loved. His step mom guided me and taught me patience, support, and love. I finished high school with a 3.3 GPA, in the top 25% of my class and I had a son. By the time high school had ended I had received college acceptance letters from all four schools I applied to.
College was hard as well; I went to school full time, worked part time, was involved with extracurriculars on the local, state, regional, and national level, and on top of having to study/ write lab reports/ and do my homework until 3am most nights, I also was the sole provider of my child. Besides not having enough time in the day, money, daycare, and childcare after hours were also obstacles I encountered along the way. It was tough, but after five years of college I graduated with my bachelors of science in Medical Laboratory Science in one of the top programs in the U.S.
Being that it is about 3 months since graduation, I have accepted two well paying positions as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in two Boston Hospitals. Outside of my professional career path I am also a Youth Parent Policy Fellow for the Massachusetts Alliance for Teen Pregnancy. It is my privilege and honor to represent teen pregnancy success.
I have come a long way, yet I know I still have far more things to accomplish. I desire to continue my education with a Doctorate in Clinical Epidemiology: Infectious disease. I desire to buy my own house, to travel the world, and to continue to inspire many young minds to overcome whatever odds are stacked against them. Anyone who truly knows me will say that I’m a firm believer in sparkles and rainbows. There is always going to be some kind of struggle or moment of despair that you must overcome. There is always going to be something that makes you question “why me?” … it’s going to happen…it’s just a matter of life. However, how you choose to positively perceive and overcome that difficulty is what will get you to the next step and back on path to your dreams.
My son is now seven and if you ask him where he wants to go to school he will say ‘Harvard’. He has been there to hug me when I was tired from all the long hours, to make me laugh in the dark times and partake in the struggle with me, but because of this, we also have an incredible bond. My child sees the world with wider vision than most, and I believe he is more understanding, compassionate, and grateful for it. If you ask my son what you need to do to get what you want, he will say “you work hard and don’t give up”.
So using my sons words to answer the title of this blog “Who am I to beat the odds?” I “worked really hard and I didn’t give up”.