Tamara Tells Her Story: From Teenage Pregnancy to GED Victory
When I was in high school I had to overcome some obstacles such as dealing with teenage pregnancy. In my second year of high school I got pregnant and had a baby while still in the tenth grade. For most people this would have been an excuse to drop out of school, but because of a strong family, they did not give me the option to give up on my future. My family told me that after the baby was born and the doctors gave me the go ahead to go back to school that is what I had to do—there was no other option, and that is what I did. Unfortunately I got very sick and had to have surgery and by the time I recuperated from surgery I was unable to finish the last few courses.
Once I realized I could not go back to school I decided to find a job besides being a teacher. I also wanted to always own my beauty salon so I began pursue that path. I figured if one of my dreams was not going to come true why not work on my other dream? I began to study cosmetology and find a job in a salon. While my family was happy that I was doing something instead of sitting home like most females in my situation, I actually was doing something but that was not enough for my family. They would lecture me and say, “I know that it feels good having your money and not having to ask anyone for anything.” They nagged me about getting my GED and going to college like I originally planned, and yes they were right. I was making a lot of money and I got accustomed to that life and I was not ready to give any of it up. My family continued to drill that I needed to get my GED because I was too smart and I could have my own business.
It wasn’t until two more years later that I began to realize that my family was right. Six months to a year prior to that moment there had been a flyer in our window that offered free GED courses for women 18 years and older and I kept prolonging signing up to take my GED. Sometime in January 2007 I decided to quit my job and focus on obtaining my GED. I was financially set to not have to work for a year with the help of my boyfriend and family (they had not yet found out what I was about to do). I then made an appointment to take a placement exam at Grace Outreach. I went to the school and completed their process.
Once I completed the placement test at Grace, Darlene Jeris, the executive director, pulled me aside and ask me a few questions. She basically told me that I was very smart, and what have I been doing for the past couple of years and what took me so long to come and get my GED and the answer to her questions were that life just took its course and it was just hard to give up a way of life and living so that I could go back to school and although my family had been pushing me to do this I couldn’t do it just because they wanted me to, it had to be when I was ready. Darlene proceeded to tell me that the next test was in three weeks and I would be able to take it and pass. I thought that she was crazy I had expected to be in this program for at least six months. Well Darlene was right and I was wrong and it was the first time ever I didn’t mind being wrong.
Once I received my diploma I applied to CUNY (Hostos) for fall 2007 and I began that September. Soon after receiving my diploma Darlene asked me if I would be interested in tutoring and I have been tutoring there ever since.#
Grace Outreach, a program in the South Bronx, was founded by Margaret Grace, an attorney who decided she wanted to devote her time to helping young women find the path to academic fulfillment and success.