It was late February 2011 when I learned that I, a then 17 year old high school senior, was pregnant. I can hardly remember how I felt because of the wave of emotions that hit me. So much was going on that I could hardly process what this meant for me. I was already trying to figure out how I was going to graduate because of so many missed days from school. Was I going to sit my entire summer in attendance recovery, pregnant? I was honestly scared to give up my trend of irresponsibility; it had been so much fun being care free. How was I going to tell my parents this? On top of that my boyfriend and I were going through problems with our relationship and my high school social life. He had been out of high school for some years and had already had a daughter who was soon to turn two years old.
I decided I wasn’t going to go back to T.L. Hanna; I couldn’t bear the thought of walking the halls pregnant. I was officially a drop out. I started classes at Anderson Adult Education that year, still wanting to obtain my high school diploma. Even then I can’t say that I was particularly determined until later in my pregnancy when it hit me, “You need this”. After my poor work experience as a waitress and a cashier, I was never going to make enough money to provide for this baby boy.
I enrolled with the Palmetto Youth Connections program and from there out I knew I was going to make something of myself, I was going to make my parents proud of me. I had my son, Landon, on November 23rd of that year. I earned the last few credits I needed to graduate and received an official T.L. Hanna High School Diploma. I then became eligible to be a part of Palmetto Youth Connections “work experience” program so that I may be able to gain experience for a proper resume so I could find a job that would allow me to provide for my new family. I was earning money for my work provided by Henkels & McCoy. I started working at the Adult Education Center as a staff assistant and did multiple duties to help around the facility. During that time I had began a Medical Terminology with Anatomy and Physiology class, a prerequisite to a Pharmacy Technician Continuing Ed. Program. It was tough juggling long days of work and studying, plus class time and managing time to spend time with my family. My time at home with my family was getting to be pretty scarce being only there during the late hours of the nights and early hours of the morning. Even still, I am able to realize the sacrifices that I will be making now will pay off. I was putting in time lost from all those years of wasting away my true potential.
I completed the class with a 97 average. I then enrolled to the Pharmacy Tech Program. My goal in this continuing education program was to make an appropriate pay for supporting a family as soon as I possibly could. I never realized how much determination this was really going to take. After my time for the work experience program expired, a position as the receptionist at Adult Education became available. After a formal interview with staff they determined I was most well qualified for the position out of several other candidates. I am now an Anderson School District 5 employee. I am on a salary schedule and receive benefits for this position. I enjoy the work; I feel that I can provide great encouragement to the students because I was once in their shoes.
I am currently in my second module out of three in my Pharmacy Technician Certification Program. I am required before completing the program to obtain 252 clinical training hours under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist in a hospital setting and retail. I began the hours at Anderson’s AnMed Hospital Pharmacy sometime last month. My days are long; I am going straight from work to class two days out of the week and then to my clinical training site the days that I am not. When it comes down to it I am usually away from home on average 12-15 hours straight five days a week. I am thankful for my weekends though, so that I am able to spend quality time with my family and take care of the house work.
I would never have been able to be away the time I was, without the support of my boyfriend, Landon’s father. I owe more that I could say in words to his support through this process. He is the greatest, most patient father to Landon. I am so fortunate to have him in our lives and without him the great gains that I have been would have never been possible.
The Palmetto Youth Connections program has put an undeniable sense of responsibility in my life. I have felt since the time that I first began, that I was going to make the very best of the opportunity that I had been given. The financial assistance that I received had a great importance to the victories I have made. It gave me the means and motivation to get to where I am now, for without it I could have never been able to start my continuing education program. I would have never been able to pay the cost of transportation that I need for my long commutes each day. The support of my career coach was a huge factor also. Having someone who is dedicated to your success is important. I am fortunate to have the support of my family along with my career coach, but often there are youth who do not have this support by any means. The program provides an almost parent like quality that gives you that feeling of obligation to uphold what you had dedicated to when you first entered the program. It is remarkable that there is such a program where this takes place and the members give their time and dedications to perfect strangers of the communities’ youth.
Today I am doing very well in my program, and also at work. I am determined to finish this program with the knowledge to pass my PTCB exam so that I may become a certified pharmacy technician. I hope to further my career by someday beginning pharmacy school. In the end, I have accomplished what I really wanted out of all of this; I have made my parents proud and I have become a proud parent myself as I watch my son grow up and show us all how brilliant and beautiful he is. I have never had the perception of maturity as I do now. My struggles have become victories, and these are small compared to what the future holds.
A special thanks to my career coach, Rhonda Wengerd.