I got pregnant when I was in my sophomore year of high school and never went back for my junior year. When I had my daughter in September of 2009, I did not have any support in figuring out how to navigate an educational path that suited my needs. I tried a high school completion program at a local college and I failed. I didn’t realize it then, but I didn’t have a support system or the resources I needed to be successful. I dropped out again. My family was unstable for years. My mom had been on and off abusing drugs and was not able to take care of me and my siblings properly.
No one really blinked in my direction when I dropped out of high school or failed at the high school completion program. I was kicked out of my family home and experienced homelessness for a short period of time which was a great source of stress for me that caused my educational endeavors to suffer more.
After stabilizing my living situation, I got connected with Seattle Education Access when I was 19. My Education Advocate, Anthon, helped me through determining school options that worked out best for me and my lifestyle. I decided to pursue a GED and finished all the tests within a month. Next, I got help getting enrolled at North Seattle College and began working on my Associate’s degree. I’ve been in school since then. SEA helped me start my educational path. I got support with tutoring to prepare for my GED, practice books, and really individualized help that focused on my needs. SEA helped me to actualize my educational goals.
I have experienced feeling like I do not belong in institutions of higher learning throughout this entire journey. I have had to learn to make space for myself and people who identify similarly to me (black, woman, first-generation college student, low-income, and parent). I have felt insignificant and not as smart compared to my peers at times.
I really don’t think I would have made it this far with my education if I wasn’t given the tools to advocate for myself, make important connections, and get the support I needed to become successful in my education by my own definition. SEA helped me gain confidence and realize that pursuing education takes more than just being smart or intelligent. It’s difficult to get through higher education alone and no one who needs extra support should have to. Almost 7 years later, I have an A.A., a B.A. in psychology, and I am now in my second year of a PhD program in Quantitative Methods in Education through the Educational Psychology department at University of Minnesota.
My daughter is a perpetual source of inspiration to me. I think my interest in education and learning has sparked something beautiful in her. I am seriously always surprised by her and motivated to keep learning so that she can see someone who has taken a path less traveled (corny, I know). She talks about going to grad school, being a mathematician or an engineer. I think it’s showing her that she can have dreams that are big, bold, and difficult, and still reach them.