I was 17 years old in the May of 2007 when I graduated from my Alma Mater. I earned a light and dark blue cord for maintaining a GPA of a 3.0 or higher, a TOPS academic scholarship and an academic certification on my diploma. It was a day that many people told me that I would not get to enjoy.
I did not wear any fancy high heels or a dress under my gown that day. I traded those in for flats and maternity pants. I was approximately seven months pregnant at my high school graduation. There was no hiding my belly either. My high school diploma is a symbol of my perseverance.
You see, I was not just another student in class. I was pretty involved in my school. I had been in the gifted/talented program since elementary school, I was the deputy corps commander of our AFJROTC as well as commander of our unarmed drill team and special operations group my senior year and I took college classes at the local community college as well as AP and honors classes throughout high school. I was considered to be a talented writer by numerous teachers. I also worked part-time at a local pizza buffet and I had a boyfriend (he is now my husband).
We found out that we were pregnant during Christmas break. I was outcast and stigmatized by many of my peers, teachers and school administrators. The teachers and administrators said that I would not see graduation, that I had ruined my life, that I would never go to college and that I made a huge mistake. I started to believe them after a while.
Walking across that stage was definitely a breath of fresh air and I realized that the cynics were wrong about me. Being pregnant in high school is not the end of the world. I would never encourage anyone to intentionally become a teenage mother. However, I do hope that those who find themselves in a similar situation realize that success is still attainable.
About 8 months later, I enrolled into the local community college so that I could work during the day and go to school at night. I was a pre-nursing major, a new mom and I became a newly-wed shortly after I started school.
My first college graduation took place in the December of 2009. I made the Dean’s List every semester, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa (an honor society), had a part-time job as a tutor and I was once again wearing flats and maternity pants. I was four months pregnant when I walked across the stage to receive my AS in science. My Associate’s degree is a symbol of what I am capable of. My husband has stood by my through all of this and although his education is on hold, he works hard.
I am now 4 semesters shy of a Bachelor’s in cellular and molecular biology. I plan on wearing a little black dress under my graduation gown in 2013. Preferably in a size 5.