Vanessa Salceda

At 15 I had to go to school and sit in a small desk where my belly was getting too big to sit facing forward, but I did all my work and graduated in 2016. I am beyond grateful for the family that I had around me and the teachers who rescued me every day and made me feel like a student when I was in school. I’m glad I didn’t have to hear any negative comments from anyone about my growing belly. I was always aware that I would no longer live for myself and that I had to hold my head up and carry on. 

I am definitely glad I had Mary Hanel, the school district’s teen parent social worker, to help me along the way. She always kept it real with me and gave me options. The fact that she believed in my ability to conquer the world gave me the strength to wake up every day and go to school. I know that she is proud of me and I love her for that. 

I am the first teen parent in my family; it was shock. I was shocked. How was I going to survive? Actually, how was I going to raise my baby?’ That was the question I always asked myself. But I did it. I’m doing it. I think having a family is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I know having a kid is easy, but raising them to become someone who values themselves and others around them is the tough part. It’s a challenge. I have conquered other challenges and those who know me know that I am down to kick butt and do what I have to do to overcome difficulties. 

I wish people knew it’s a battle. It’s choosing to buy diapers instead of new shoes. It’s staying home when there’s a school dance. It’s going to the park because you want your baby to explore the world with you and learn all the things that you wish you knew when you were a kid. I love my daughter and I also love my story. I want everyone to know that when you become pregnant your life does not end; it’s just getting started.