In 2003, I graduated from high school; my son was 11 months old when I crossed that stage. As an 18 year old high school graduate there was pressure to grow up and pursue the endless possibilities that awaited me. The difference between myself and most of my classmates was that by age 17, I already had to grow up because life was no longer just about me. When I became a teen mom, the possibilities were different but they didn’t completely go away. I knew I would be faced with more challenges than my peers but those challenges are what made me truly appreciate life and the goals that I have achieved. Ten years later, I now have two children that look up to me, to give them strength, guidance and most importantly, love. Today, I have logged out of school for the last time as an undergraduate student and I’m proud to say that I am a college graduate of Southern New Hampshire University.
It wasn’t an easy journey. My priority role was to my children with additional responsibilities as an Air Force civilian employee and SNHU student. My family and friends often took a backseat in my journey but always continued to encourage me throughout these years. As each semester passed, I often struggled with seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes got discouraged because the light didn’t always seem bright enough.
The light is shining bright on me today! As I prepare for graduation, flying to New Hampshire to be with my fellow classmates and my family, I can’t help but get emotional. The odds and statistics are constantly against teen moms. Only 2% of teen moms finish college by age 30 . Despite all of the statistics that I was classified as at the age of 17, this is one statistic that I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished. I became a college graduate at the age of 28. I achieved my dream, I received a degree.
Thank you to my husband Joseph for encouraging me to go back to school and caring for our children while I was studying. To my children who didn’t always understand what I was doing but who loved me no less. To my mother for knowing that I could and would get a degree no matter what obstacles I faced. To my grandparents and extended family for being proud of me and believing that I would do great things in life. And last but certainly not least, to my friends for always encouraging me, especially my best friend Natalie. Our 21 years of friendship is unlike no other.
Don’t ever give up on a dream, even if it seems unreachable. My dream was to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and it finally happened!
PREP: 20 minutes
BAKE: 30 minutes
YIELD: 6 servings
- Cooking spray
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cubed
- 1 (10-oz) can tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- Pinch chili powder
- 1?2 tsp salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 (8.5-oz) package corn-muffin mix
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in oil for 2 minutes.
2. Add chicken and brown, then add tomatoes, corn, chili powder, salt, and pepper to skillet and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into the pie pan, and top with grated cheese.
3. In a mixing bowl, prepare muffin mix according to package directions. Spread evenly over chicken mixture, and bake for 30 minutes, or until corn-muffin topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbling.
HOW KIDS CAN HELP: Sprinkle cheese; spread the corn-muffin batter on top.
PER SERVING: 376 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated), 1,082 mg sodium, 83 mg cholesterol