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Teen Mom Graduates College (Eventually)

The last time I donned a cap and gown was in June of 1991. I was several months pregnant walking across the stage to receive my High School diploma as a teenage single mom. My parents weren't sure that I would even graduate high school that year because I had ditched class too many days and the school had considered not letting me graduate until the next year. I did not enjoy school . . . at all.

It wasn't because of my grades. I had all As and Bs (except for that one English class where the teacher hated my guts because I talked too much). 🤭

It wasn't because of the social aspect. I got along with everyone pretty well (except for two girls who threatened to beat me up because I was dating a guy that they liked).🙄

I just did not like going to school and sitting in class (except for Jewelry I and II which I LOVED). 🤩

Yet, there I was in my black cap and gown which hid my ever-growing belly holding my pre-born baby girl. At the end of August, I gave birth to Lauren and began college two weeks later!!!

Life seemed to be humming along for me as a young mom who was working two part-time jobs and going to school full-time. If my parents and my church wouldn't have been such a huge support to me, I probably would not have made it through my first year of college with good grades. I also loved, loved, loved my communications courses and switched from a General Studies degree to Communications. I still believe God used Darlene Tullos, my Intro. to Public Speaking professor, instrumentally as she encouraged me greatly in my public speaking!

Then, the unthinkable happened as I was headed into my sophomore year of college. A young man, whom I had been dating for just about two months, sexually assaulted and shook Lauren to death while he was watching her during one of my work shifts. Just as I should have been starting the semester, I was attending my one-year-old daughter's funeral. My boyfriend was arrested on capital murder charges. If this wasn't tragic enough, I was also pregnant with his baby . . . just about 9-10 weeks along.

My parents (along with my flesh) convinced me that I would not be able to carry this baby due to my tremendous grief and horror at the thought of what this baby's father had done to Lauren. So, I had an abortion four days after Lauren's funeral. The following weeks and months were a blur. I think my parents had tried to push me to go to classes that fall. I think I completed two of the four and dropped the rest. And the Spring semester? More enrolling and dropping.

My college transcript is full of Ws ("withdraw").

I tried to take classes each semester for about a year after Lauren's death, but I just couldn't get myself together. I was still grieving and very broken.

When I married Troy, he brought some much-needed stability to my life. When we moved to Kentucky in 1997, I enrolled in several Communications courses, and my love for learning all things "speaking" was stoked again. But, my love and desire for something else eclipsed my schooling.

I desperately wanted to start a family and have another baby. One of my biggest fears after the abortion was that God was going to punish me by not letting me have children. Was I relieved to learn that was not the case when I became pregnant with Phoebe! (I would have much more security later when I learned from the Bible that God does not deal with our sin in this way, but that Jesus paid for my sin of abortion on the cross!!!)

I stopped going to school at NKU after the Spring semester of 1998. Our family grew when we had our son, John, and then again, when we adopted our daughter, Sophia. I have enjoyed raising my children and helping them invest in their education. Last year, Spring of 2021, John and Sophia graduated high school.

As they flew the nest, I began to consider what I would do with my time. Seeing the need for a transition in my employment, I prayed and discerned that THIS was the time to go back to school and finish! I'm 48 years old and will be graduating Saturday, May 7th, 2022 with my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a Focus in Social Issues (though I am not walking the stage this time).

God's graciousness has been incredibly apparent this past year. I have spent a fraction of the cost in completing my degree as well as being able to cram 2 years' worth of coursework into one. I'll be graduating with a 4.0 (after a slew of Ws).

Why am I sharing this? I want to give God the glory for this academic path He has had me on. I am humbled and grateful for an incredible education. In high school, I disdained my studies. In college, I have relished them.

Additionally, I want to encourage young women who may find themselves pregnant and considering an abortion because they don't want a big disruption to their educational goals. I don't know if you could have any bigger disruption than I had while attending high school and college. Yet, I wouldn't trade the time that I had being a mom (single or married) for anything. Your education will wait . . . and, there is so much rich learning to be had in parenting your baby, or making an adoption plan for your baby. Parenting

is a life learning that cannot be taught in a classroom by a professor. God wants to teach you through your little one's life. Please don't end it. And know that your dreams and goals aren't ending either.

They are simply on hold . . . for now.

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