Against All Odds: Teenage Mom is College-Bound

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Victoria Morales before her high school prom at San Antonio Can High School. Photo by Justine Espinosa.

Victoria Morales before her high school prom at San Antonio Can High School. Photo by Justine Espinosa.

I was born and raised in San Antonio in a house my grandparents bought more than 30 years ago. My parents are divorced and that hasn’t always been easy.  But things happen for a reason and I couldn't be happier with the way things are today.

I have a son whose name is Jotham Espinosa and he celebrated his first birthday in August. I know I'm biased, I am his mother after all, but he really is the happiest baby I know. My husband, Isaac, is a great Dad, too. Jotham has mastered cruising, is learning to crawl, stand on his own and eat table foods. I know that he is going to be taking his first steps before too long. And then he will be all over the place. He's just one of the best things that's ever happened to me.

Victoria Morales and her son, Jotham and Isaac on vacation in the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi. Photo by Stephen Morales.

Victoria Morales, her son Jotham, and husband Isaac on vacation in the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi. Photo by Stephen Morales.

My whole life, I really liked going to school and learning new things. I still enjoy reading and math. I love both romantic and horror books and movies.I also like to listen to music and spend as much time as I can with Isaac and Jotham.

My name is Victoria Morales, I'm 18 years old and graduated in June from San Antonio Can High School.

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I cried. I honestly thought I was going to be just another teen mom dropout. I didn't want that life for my child. I didn't want a low-income job to just get by and barely be able to provide for my family.

When he was born I was overwhelmed with joy and fear. He was perfect. I didn't know how I was going to do anything. How would I finish school, if I did return to school?  Who would watch him for the few hours I had to go? From the beginning I was worried about how I could better his life and make sure he had everything he needed and ever wanted. It was then that I realized it wasn't an option for me to not graduate from high school; it was what was absolutely necessary.

I moved through multiple schools before Jotham was born. I spent my freshman year at Brackenridge High School and my sophomore and junior years at Churchill High School.  When I found out I was pregnant, I dropped out for about a month, then went to a charter school for about a month.  Once I had my son, I went to a NEISD program for teenagers who had just had babies. I could take him with me and learn something with him there.

San Antonio Can High School seniors participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Walk fundraiser. From left: San Antonio Can student Brittany Fortner, Victoria Morales and Amanda ViVenzio, ReadyToWork Student Transition Coordinator and mentor to Victoria. Courtesy photo.

San Antonio Can High School seniors participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Walk fundraiser. From left: San Antonio Can student Brittany Fortner, Victoria Morales and Amanda ViVenzio, ReadyToWork Student Transition Coordinator and mentor to Victoria. Photo courtesy of San Antonio Can High School.

After my maternity leave was over, so was the summer and I had to find another school. It was hard with a new baby because they take up a lot of time, so it wasn't until Jotham was three months old that I finally found a good school. I enrolled at San Antonio Can High School right after I found it.  They told me how many credits I needed to graduate and encouraged me to finish.

So I started going back to school there and it was great. They have the option of morning and afternoon classes which was convenient for me because I had to take care of my son as well. My in-laws ended up watching him everyday when I went to school. Not everyone in my situation has that option. I was – I am – lucky.

I have been dreaming about going to college as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist since I was seven years old. For some reason, I really liked the thought of helping people get better. The main reason was because I wanted to help my parents get better if they ever needed help. I didn't want to see them in wheelchairs or using canes to help them walk. I want them to know I'll do whatever I can to stop that from happening. I didn't know what college I wanted to go to, I just knew I wanted to go.

My Aunt Elise told me she went to University of Incarnate Word and since she was the first person in my family that I knew who went to college and make something of herself, I decided I wanted to go there, too. I already knew I wanted to major in Rehabilitative Science; that's what physical therapy falls under.

Victoria Morales with her family on graduation day. From left: Gabriel Morales (Dad), Jotham Espinosa, (son), Victoria Morales and Belinda Urdina (Mom). Courtesy photo.

Victoria Morales with her family on graduation day. From left: Gabriel Morales (Dad), Jotham Espinosa, (son), Victoria Morales and Belinda Urdina (Mom). Photo by Jonathan Espinosa.

Applying for college was not easy. Amanda ViVenzio from the ReadyToWork program at San Antonio Can helped me out a lot. She gave me multiple options.  Even though I already had my heart set on Incarnate Word, she helped me through the process. With her help, I applied in January. It wasn't difficult, just time-consuming. The scholarships were a whole lot worse because you have to go through a lot just to fill out one application – and I applied for a lot of scholarships. After we filled everything out for Incarnate Word, we waited until the end of the year so I could send in my official transcripts. It took a while because my information wasn't processed right, but they got it all under control and I got accepted.

I almost cried when they sent me the acceptance letter. You could only imagine my excitement when they then told me they were awarding me a $40,000 scholarship that will total $10,000 for every year I go. The first person I called was my mom.  Soon, my whole family knew. Now I hope other girls in situations similar to mine will know.

I hope I make all of them proud.  I learned that if you ask for help and work really hard for something you want, you can make your dreams happen.  No matter what the other hardships are in your life.

*Featured/top image: Victoria Morales before her high school prom at San Antonio Can High School. Photo by Justine Espinosa.

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4 thoughts on “Against All Odds: Teenage Mom is College-Bound

  1. Kudos to Victoria and to her family for supporting her! She’s already accomplished more than many. Now the next phase begins. I teach at UIW and many of my students have been in her position, so she’s not alone. One of the advantages of UIW is that, being a small school, has excellent faculty involvement and other services for students.

    Victoria, the path will be difficult. College is hard enough without the added stresses of raising a family. But you’ll find other students who are doing it and faculty who will help you along the way. I strongly encourage you to seek out those services and help from faculty. Don’t let even a semester of struggle go by. So many students drop out of college after the first year. The faculty and staff at UIW are trying to get you to graduation – that’s what your tuition goes to, make the most of that. We’re here for you. Good luck!

  2. You hang in there, Victoria! You can do this & you will make it. Lots of people are pulling for you!
    Yes, times will be hard but you seem to have the support of your family & that will be important. Don’t be afraid to ASK for help or guidance. You have already proven yourself to be equal to the challenge. because you didn’t drop out & you didn’t quit. Just keep applying that same principle & remember that your goal is worthy.
    Good Luck.

  3. Thanks for a well-written, encouraging story. Kudos to you, your family and the others who helped you stay on track. Congratulations.

  4. You go, girl!!! That’s awesome. I hope you achieve everything you dream of. You will be an inspiration to others (in fact, I plan to print this out and show it to my teenage mom patients)!

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