I remember having a hard time getting my grades up back in college. I was still studying under the chemical engineering program before I shifted out to another engineering course. I remember crying hard because I felt like giving up back then yet my mother kept pushing me to pursue this course. However, it was at that point in my life that I stumbled upon an old classmate who was also pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. She became a young mother when I reached out to her.
I heard about her pregnancy in her fourth year in college. While we were not the closest friends back then, I wished the best for her and her baby. Studying chemical engineering was tough but being pregnant while handling all the stress from school was harder. But it was her perseverance and courage that got her through. Luckily for her, she had a great support system and years later, she graduated with the degree she worked so hard for. It took her more time to finally graduate but she eventually did with a loving boy who keeps her motivated to be the best engineer-mom she can ever be.
Last night, I asked her a few questions about her journey as a young mom in engineering school. Let me share what she had to say about motherhood and engineering.
On finding out she was about to be a mother at 20 years old:
“I found out I was pregnant when I during my 4th year in college. On June 2011, I found out I was already 2 months pregnant. My parents found out about it the same month and it was not very good at first because they got mad at me. Luckily, my boyfriend and his family took the responsibility and helped me through the process.
By October, I already had a huge bump but I decided to finish the year and enrolled for a minimum number of units for the second semester. I gave birth by January 2012 to a healthy baby boy and continued to be a full-time student while also being a mom. I would go to school in the morning then immediately go home to feed my baby even in the middle of the night.
After that year, I decided to stop going to school and took a leave of absence for one year to take care of the baby until he was 1 year old. This would make it manageable for the help in taking care of my baby, Inno. I came back to school June 2013 and finally graduated last year April 2015.”
On the best thing about being a young mom and pursuing her dream to be an engineer:
“The best thing for me while pursuing a career and having a kid is that I became more motivated to finish school. Ever since Inno was born and after the hospital bills, me and my boyfriend decided that we would be the ones responsible for Inno.
Another good thing that came out of the situation was that it kept me motivated. I had to do everything not only for myself but for my child as well. I did my best not to depend on my parents so it made me learn how to be independent.
Once you have a child, he becomes your driving force to never give up, most especially in engineering where the subjects are very hard. All the struggles and hardships went unnoticed because you have a purpose and you have a clear goal.”
On the hardest part of her journey as a young mom/engineering student:
“Being at school more than two hours away from home, I had to leave Inno because I had a help to make sure that everything is okay. The biggest challenge for me is not being a working student but being away from Inno for most of the week. I would go to school from Monday to Friday. I only get to spend 2 days a week (on weekends) with him. That was our situation for two years.”
On her advice to young mothers pursuing their engineering dreams:
“For those young women who started motherhood at a young age and also pursuing a career in engineering, I know that this might be a cliche but never give up. Having a child at a young age should not stop you from finishing school. It is a challenge though. Many people will also belittle you but for your own sake and your child’s, shrug it off. I went to school with a big belly. Climbed stairs just to attend classes. I was fortunate to have understanding teachers and classmates. They made my life easier. Have a support group because you will need them. They will help you study your lessons and encourage you whenever you feel down.
When you don’t give up, everything that you will earn after will all be worth it.”
For mother’s day, I decided to write about her story to inspire our readers that no matter what adversity comes your way, if you use that as inspiration to achieve your goals, to get out of the rabbit hole, to come out a better individual, then you can always find a way to make them happen. Engineering school is tough. I could not imagine the struggles my friend had to go through as she pursued her dreams as a young mother but she eventually made it. I must say, I’m a proud friend here. Thank you, Christine for serving as an inspiration for aspiring engineers (and young moms) out there.