Babies or Books?

As soon as I step foot back in my neighborhood of the Lower East Side, Manhattan I am sported in Cuse’ gear. I can often be seen wearing Cuse’ sweats along with a hoodie with a big, bright orange “S” in the center of it, accompanied by a cap with the word “Syracuse” adorned on it. I like to refer to this style as “all Cuse’d out.” But why do I feel the need to sport my Cuse’ gear as if it’s the newest collection of couture off the runway you ask? Well, that’s just the way I was raised.

Pride in my family can basically be considered an inherited gene. Soy Orgullosa. Since elementary school, I was one of the star pupils of my class. My mother always bragged of my scholarly accomplishments, so my acceptance to Syracuse University was just another notch on her belt she could brag about. “I am so proud that you didn’t end up a dropout or pregnant” she would often tell me. Now, while this may seem uncommon for a parent to say to her child, for me this is completely normal vernacular. In fact, it’s not uncommon at all to know someone who never made it to college or has had a baby or two where I was raised.

According to the Washington D.C. based The Education Trust, while there has been a substantial increase in college enrollment, Latino and African American students are dropping out at higher rates. A lot of the reasons behind these increasing dropout rates are due to financial issues. But there has been a staggering increase in teen pregnancy in our generation preventing young mothers and fathers from even considering college. Studies have suggested that in the Hispanic community 1 in 2 teenage girls become pregnant, in contrast to the national average of 1 in 4. I personally know at least 5 girls who I graduated from high school with who have had babies already. The show Teen Mom on MTV emphasizes how commonplace teen pregnancy has become.

While I do not support teen pregnancy, I do have grave respect for those still decide to pursue college despite the fact that they have a child. After doing some research on my own, I found out some information that I didn’t realize before. Support systems play a crucial role in whether a mom-to-be decides to continue her education or not. Where is the nearest daycare center on this campus? Or when is the last time you saw a changing table for diapers in a restroom of any academic building? What professor would allow an essay to be turned in late because of a baby appointment at the doctor’s? It just seems impossible to have a child and an education at the same time with all the non-support. So what have we learned from all of this? Next time you decide to get hot and heavy with your significant other, wrap it up. Because the epidemic of dropouts and pregnancies seems to be a trending topic for our generation.

By Samantha Saunion

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