By Richelle Hadley

Sacramento Sate University student

When I found out I was pregnant, I was afraid that I would be compared to the young, immature girls on MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” Even though I’m not a teen, I was only 20 when I found out I was pregnant. As exciting a time as it should be, I was more scared than anything.

It was my third year of college and I was well on my way to the credential program to work on my future career as an elementary school teacher. As if going to school and working full time was not hard enough, I had start planning for the new addition to my family.

The first thing I did was move out of my apartment in Sacramento and back into my dad’s house in Rocklin. Never did I think when I moved out at 17 that I would be moving back home only 3 years later. The commute to school was not as bad as the harsh stares I got when my stomach started to show. With my expanding family, I had no excuse to not get my degree.

My friends and family were supportive, but there was always a hint of judgement every time I told someone my big news. My classmates however were not as friendly. When I started to show, the questions started to flow. Do you know if it’s a boy or girl? How old are you? Are you married? Is this your first pregnancy? Did you have morning sickness? I know every pregnant woman gets these questions, but I felt like these people were probing me. No one was ever negative towards me, but I know they were judging in their minds.

I started slipping into class just as it was starting, leaving with my head down right when the teacher dismissed us, and opting to do projects by myself even if we were allowed partners. After some time of avoiding my peers, I realized I needed to put everything aside because I was no longer in class to make friends, I was in class to get my education and better my future.

“I have a lot of respect for young girls who decide to take on the challenges of getting through college and having a baby,” says Alex Franceschini, a fellow Child Development major at Sacramento State. Franceschini continues with, “After all we have learned about the time and commitment a pregnancy alone requires,  having a new  and tiny human being to be responsible for takes a lot of maturity and dedication.”

Studies have shown and that teenage and young mothers are more likely to drop out school, work at a low-paying jobs and be single parents, but I am a young mother that is about to prove the studies otherwise. I have recently planned my Spring 2013 semester at Sacramento State University where I am continuing my education towards becoming a teacher and reaching my goal. Just because I am having my baby girl at this time that does not mean my life has to be put on hold. With nothing but my child’s future in mind I plan to work my hardest and be the best parent I can be, no matter what my age is.