I want to share with everyone why I’m here, for new and old readers of my blog. I’m here to tell my story and show other people that they can weather their storms too! I went from your average “teenage mom” to a wife, educator, and blogger. People didn’t think I would do anything positive after my daughter, that was supposed to be my down fall. Too bad HE had another plan.
When I had my daughter I was seventeen years old, a high school senior, with little to no experience with babies. From the moment I found out that I was carrying a gift, I busted my butt to make sure I made every doctor’s appointment, WIC appointment, and any other appointments for myself and my baby. Nobody told me this is what I had to do, but thank God for Google, I knew I had to take care of myself in order for my child to be healthy.
Fast forward to after I had my daughter. I returned to my high school, only to find out that I might not be graduating. After all my hard work, my dreams started slipping away. They said I was missing a gym credit that was mandatory for graduation. Okay, gym, really? I thought. Thank God my mother/biggest support/lawyer attended this meeting with my vice principal and we came up with a lin “amicable” solution: I would 1st period gym at 7am every morning for a whole quarter.
I was scared. I was already up with my new baby at quarter to six, now I would have to break her sleep even earlier? I agreed to the solution anyway and hoped that I could work this new schedule out with my sitter. My sitter, my life saver, a 3rd grandmother to my daughter. Her name was Ms. Renay, recommended to me by a friend. As soon as I told her what happened she was appalled, “They want you there at what time? Don’t worry, you know Chelsea is my girl. It’s not an issue.” My heart melted. She could have easily said no and turned me away.
When that aweful semester had finally ended, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I could focus on the college applications I had submitted and finding another job, in addition to the part time one I was working. I applied to local schools so I could stay close to my baby and the cost would be lower. As I got my acceptable letters, followed by financial letters, the fear set in again. My mother had raised me ALL HER LIFE ON HER OWN and now we had to fill out my FAFSA and see how we were going to do this.
Prior to my pregnancy I was able to visit many colleges in the Philadelphia area, other parts of the state, and New England. My top choice for school was actually the University of Connecticut. I loved their school spirit, their academic rigor, and the distance from home. I wanted to get away. When my big news came, my top choice for college became Chestnut College for its proximity to the city and small class sizes. Once I got my financial aid letter, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go. Their tuition was double/triple the average tuition for the area and I didn’t have a kidney to sell to do so. Drexel was just as expensive, as well as Lasalle.
I had all these options, but Temple just seemed right. My mom was alum, graduating in the later 80s, it was not far from my grandfather’s home, and I could easily access to broad street line or buses to travel to and from home. Oh, let’s not forget about the price. It was just right: we still had to take out loans to finance my education, but it seemed easier to pay 12,000 per year versus 24,000, or 32,000.
I thought I was right in. Another letter addressed to me said based on my SAT scores I would be required to complete a Summer Bridge Program prior to my official acceptance into the college. It was bologna! No other college offered my conditional admission, what made them so different? I was annoyed more than anything, but I signed up and attended the program anyway because I wanted to show them that I was an asset to their school.
Summer Bridge wasn’t easy. It was a month long hybrid college experience. We had papers, assignments, projects due concurrently. It seemed designed to make or break you. Some rose up to the challenge, some were unable to catch up to the pace. In the end it made us all build a bond like no other. I’m still in touch with people from the program, still seeing their growth and progress.
The irony in the program’s design was that it made you more prepared to tackle your first college course like no other. I remember telling other freshman in my courses where to find buildings on campus, how to do certain things, and giving th advice. I was a Temple expert, thanx to Summer Bridge. That experience led me to many on campus positions and programs. I mentored other freshman in seminar courses, worked with adults with disabilities, students housing, Diamond Leader, student conduct board member, and I even applied an obtained an academic scholarship. The list goes on and on, but it’s always those things that seem like they set you back that actually set you up for greatness!
I can’t say it enough. I’m here for others. My work, this blog is not selfish. Read my story, know that you are not along. The trials and tribulations you are going through are only a test. Be true to yourself and go for what you want. If I can do it, anyone can.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.