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“When I was 15, I found out I was pregnant. I just didn’t want to believe it.”

I loved school. Ever since I started, I was always really ahead in my class. I was valedictorian throughout my childhood years.

My family had such high expectations of me. I was going to be the first of everything. The first to graduate from high school. The first to graduate from college. The plan was to finish high school and study abroad.

That’s when I met my first boyfriend. I had those butterflies in my stomach. It was a little hard to concentrate. We had a really special relationship.

When I was fifteen, I found out I was pregnant. I just didn’t want to believe it. I told my mother. She looked at me and she said, “I already know. I’m your mother, I know everything.” She also told me, “You decided to be an adult, so now it’s time for you to grow up.”

I transferred to a school for pregnant teenagers. I looked around and I just couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, “This is not where I belong. What did I do?” I was angry at myself for allowing that to happen.

As soon as I heard him cry, I cried. I couldn’t stop crying. They were tears of joy.

I wasn’t ready to live with my child’s father. It was my decision that we take some time apart. It was one of the toughest times in my life.

On June 19, 2004, I gave birth to a baby boy. Becoming a mom changed my life completely.

As soon as I heard him cry, I cried. I couldn’t stop crying. They were tears of joy. At that point, I decided everything that I would do wouldn’t just be for me anymore. Everything would be for this child.

When my son was two years old, I started thinking a lot about his father. I was the one who approached him. I called to say, “We have to talk.” I remember he was on the freeway and had to pull over. He was so surprised that I called him. Ever since, he hasn’t left my side, and I haven’t left his.

We went on to have a daughter. Our daughter just made everything complete. We have our children, we have each other, and we just got married last year.

School was something that I always wanted to complete. I’m working on my undergrad right now. I know that I will finish my higher education. It’s a must. The greatest joy is my children knowing that I’m in school and my daughter saying, “Oh, Daddy, we have to drive Mommy to college!” Just hearing her say that brings me a lot of happiness.

I also created a group called Millennial Latinas. I’ve always wanted to build a support group for women who became teen moms or were raised by a teen mom. I wanted a way to help the younger generation of Latinas who perhaps never talked about college in their homes.

Millennial Latinas supports young women by helping them prevent teen pregnancy, build confidence, and develop professionally. We talk about what we want to accomplish and how we’re going to help each other.

These other women see me as a mentor. I didn’t have that when I was younger. So now I’m willing and want to give back.

By Guadalupe Valencia

Divorce & Family Challenges