Nevaeh D. always got good grades and had goals of higher education, so it’s no surprise she is headed to a leading college this fall with a full scholarship. But this path to a degree and a fulfilling career could have easily been derailed 2 1/2 years ago when, as a high school sophomore, she found out she was pregnant.
The grim reality is that only 53 percent of women in their twenties who first became mothers when they were teenagers completed a traditional high school degree, according to the nonprofit research organization Child Trends. By contrast, 90 percent of women who did not give birth as teens obtained a traditional high school diploma.
Fortunately, during the pandemic, Nevaeh had transferred here and was able to continue her studies at her own pace while taking care of her baby.
“When we went back to in-person, I could bring my daughter to school with me,” she explained. “They have a special classroom for students with babies. While I did my lessons, she was sleeping or playing alongside me and the school even gave me free diapers when I needed them.”
The flexible schedule allowed her to work so she could provide for her daughter and make her car payments. “Being such a young mom and trying to balance work, school, and being a mom was super hard,” Nevaeh admits. “But going to school with such a supportive staff and being able to choose my own schedule helped to ease a lot of my stress.”
Since she was a young girl, Nevaeh wanted to go to UCLA, so she applied to the college for financial aid. Thanks to her high grades and test scores, she was offered a full-ride scholarship. Her plan is to become a family therapist and maybe even work with teen parents.
“Leaving my hometown to go to college with my baby is going to be a journey,” she said. “It’s a little nerve wracking, but I know I’ll cross paths with more good people who will support me.”
Nevaeh is graduating in a few weeks and has already lined up an apartment near the campus and daycare for her daughter. Like many of our alums, she has the option to stay in touch with the staff at her high school for two years for support and help with the transition to college.
Her advice to other teen moms is to stay focused and not worry about what everyone else is doing. “A lot of teen moms regret that they can’t party or go out with friends,” she points out. “I’d tell them that they are not missing out, it’s just a different path. Just focus on the long term and what’s best for them and their child.”