Despite the statistics against teen moms when it comes to finishing their schooling, and the stigma attached as they take on the great responsibility of mothering, the future is bright for 17 young mothers from Kentucky.
These teen moms proudly walked the stage to accept their high school diplomas in pink caps and gowns in a moving ceremony last week, according to Atlanta News First. It results from a program at the Georgia Chaffee TAPP School designed to prevent school dropouts due to teen pregnancy and parenting.
“It’s just emotional because we’re done, we did it. We got through it with babies,” Ronyale Wilson, an 18-year-old program graduate said. “People doubted us, but we did it and got through all the stuff.”
Balancing difficult schedules around their children’s needs and demands is no easy feat, but these mothers rose to the occasion.
“Especially waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning, every morning. I have to get myself ready and my baby, get on the bus by a certain time,” Wilson told WAVE News.
Nonetheless, the high school graduate persevered, knowing she had a little one looking to her as an example.
“I always knew I could do it,” she said. “I know she’s proud of me…” she said.
With so few programs aimed at preventing the dropout of teen mothers, the TAPP school provides an alternative solution to the issue by serving pregnant and parenting students from surrounding middle and high schools, supporting these young moms with childcare, as well as medical and family services.
For these teenagers, the reality of graduating holds a special significance, as the odds stacked against them make the ceremony even more meaningful.
The youngest graduate, Claudia Aguilar Venegas, is a mom of two who joined the program when she became a mother at 14. The milestone brought her to tears.
“It was happy tears. Not for me, but for my kids… I did this for them,” the 16-year-old told WAVE News.
Both Aguilar Venegas and Wilson plan to attend college. But before the teens headed off on their next endeavor, the support they received to celebrate this achievement was overwhelming.
Perhaps most impressive: All of the women enrolled in the program were able to obtain their degrees.
“I feel nervous, but I’m also ready to get started with my life, with my adult life,” Wilson said. “I’m ready to see what life has for me.”