Figuring it out along the way

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Figuring it out along the way

Submitted by Ashley Perez

Submitted by Ashley Perez

Submitted by Ashley Perez

Although Perez had children earlier than expected, she looks forward to spending time with her baby.

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Junior Ashley Perez always wanted to be a younger mom so that she could be more involved in her kid’s life. Perez gave birth to her first baby, Michael, earlier than expected–during her sophomore year. Perez is currently pregnant with her second child. Her due date is July 21.

“I was happy when I found out I was pregnant. I have always had the mentality of [a young mom]… I want to make sure I can spend time with [my kids],” Perez said. “I was going to have my first baby after I graduated high school, then take a year off and go back to college. That did not work out, but now I’ll be able to see them grow and play with them.”

Perez’s boyfriend of five years was present when Perez received the news of her first pregnancy. According to Perez, his reaction was what she had hoped for.

“When he heard the news, he immediately joked about how he was going to have to work,” Perez said. “He told me we’re going to do what we’re going to do, and that he wasn’t going to leave me because I was pregnant. Everything was great with my boyfriend.”

Perez said her biggest fear was how her mother would react. After discovering papers from the clinic confirming Perez’s first pregnancy, her mother didn’t speak to her for two days. “She was worried, which I understand. Another person means that there’s another mouth to feed …a baby is really expensive. But when [I] got closer to the due date, she was happy.”

People are always going to judge you for your outside, for what you wear, how your hair looks, whether you wear makeup or not.”

— Perez

While some high school students’ schedules consist of sleeping in, watching TV and putting off doing their homework until midnight, Perez starts her day at 7 a.m. and ends her day exhausted.

“I’ll get ready and then get the diaper bag ready, and by eight a driver is here to take me and my baby to daycare,” Perez said. “After I drop him off I come to school. My mom usually picks him up from daycare around 3…when I get home, I do my homework and take him out to the park.”

When Perez was pregnant with her first child, she attended Richardson High School. Perez said that she told very few people about her pregnancy and let students figure it out themselves.

“Everyone stares,” Perez said. “It bugs me… but I guess you can say I have gotten used to it.”

Despite the perpetual stares, Perez has felt more comfortable with herself during her current pregnancy. “People are always going to judge you for your outside, for what you wear, how your hair looks, whether you wear makeup or not and your weight,” she said. “During my first pregnancy I hated it. I didn’t want to go to school and got truancy. This pregnancy has been better than my last one.”

Perez met AVID teacher Aimee Ratliff during her sophomore year shortly after having her first baby. Perez is currently in Ratliff’s second period class.

Being a mom is challenging at any age. Trying to go to high school and being a mom is a bigger struggle.”

— AVID teacher Aimee Ratliff

“I appreciate hard working students,” said Ratliff. “Determination is the key to success and Ashley has it.”

When Ratliff discovered Perez’s second pregnancy, Ratliff had not yet gotten to know Perez, but understood the difficulty of her situation.

“Being a mom is challenging at any age,” Ratliff said. “Trying to go to high school and being a mom is a bigger struggle. I knew she would need her AVID family and all the support her community can provide.”

Since then, Ratliff’s relationship with Perez has grown. According to Ratliff, Perez exceeds in her class not only through her exemplary notes, but also by offering her assistance on a daily basis.

“I would say that Ashley and I are close,” Ratliff said. “She confides in me and I try to mentor her and put her in contact with people who can help her.”

Perez has completed three college fit searches and has used Princeton Review to narrow her list down to 10 schools. Although Perez may be growing up faster than most other teenagers, Ratliff said Perez has a big future.

“She wants to teach math and she will be an incredible teacher,” Ratliff said. “She teaches during tutorials already. Her experiences and heart and desire to give back will inspire many.”