17 young mothers graduate high school against the odds: ‘We got through it with babies’

Young mothers graduate. Photo: WRDW

It was an emotional moment for everyone when 17 young mothers from the Georgia Chaffee Teenage Parent Program graduated high school last Thursday.

TAPP, according to the Jefferson County Public Schools, is designed to prevent school dropouts due to teen pregnancy and parenting. The program is offered to middle and high school students throughout Jefferson County and since it began, it has helped thousands of young women to complete their high school education.

The 17 young mothers are elated to have been able to complete their high school education too despite challenges juggling kids and studies. “It’s been challenging. Especially waking up at five in the morning,” said graduate Ronyale Wilson. “I had to get myself ready and my baby and get on the bus by a certain time. But I made it work.”

Being a mother at a young age comes with many difficulties that may prevent one from accessing education. Besides having illness and childcare issues, the other challenges to think about are how to access medical care and transportation. TAPP thus provides these services on-site so that students would not have to leave campus to receive their education.

16-year-old graduate Claudia Aguilar Vanegas, who is a mother of two, said she had doubts about making it when she joined the program. Going home to do tests was way too much on her hands and she also lacked alone time. For Ronyale Smith, waking up early to get herself and her baby ready was tough but she was determined to complete the journey because she knew she could do it. 

Apart from helping one another along the way, the young mothers have also hailed their support systems and the TAPP program for being there for them.

“It’s just emotional because we’re done, we did it. We got through it with babies. People doubted us, but we did it and got through all the stuff,” Wilson said.

The young graduates will head to local schools including JCTC and the University of Louisville, as reported by WLKY News. Some would also like to pursue nursing. Their advice to other young women is that they should never give up on their dreams.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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