As I heard my name being called out I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and relief. After six years of high school and about eight retakes of the TAKS test I was finally able to “walk the stage” and receive my diploma. At last, I was rewarded for all my hard work and perseverance.
As a sophomore attending a public high school in Texas, life was stressful enough. And to make matters worse, two weeks into the beginning of the school year I found out I was six weeks pregnant. With all the doctors’ appointments, the new changes my body was experiencing, and just the stress of being pregnant at such a crucial time in my life, I felt so overwhelmed that I often thought a high school diploma was well out of reach. However, I believe that when I put my mind to something I can accomplish anything. I believe that persistence and determination really do pay off.
During my pregnancy I heard about this charter school called San Antonio Can! Academy from a friend who went there. She told me they help students who are at risk of dropping out of school, such as pregnant girls, students who need more of a one on one learning environment or just students who wanted to graduate early. A few days later my mother and I went to go check it out. We found out when the orientation was and signed up to enroll.
Attending this new school really helped me catch up but due to feeling sick or having to go to my doctors’ appointments, I was still missing many days. I talked to my counselor who let me know that I could make up days I missed by going to Saturday school. I took her advice and would come to school nearly every Saturday to catch up on my school work and make up days. Then, on March twenty-fifth, two weeks before my due date, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Jesus Armando Perez Jr.
While I was on maternity leave my mother would bring my school work home for me. Even when I was supposed to be resting and taking a break I was still trying to catch up on my school work. By the time I returned to school I was almost caught up with my work except for a few make-up tests I had to take. Just when I thought things were returning to normal, my mother found a job in Odessa, Texas, and moved the entire family there.
Half-way through my junior year I was thrown into an entirely different school system which meant that some of the credits I had earned at my previous schools would not count towards the credits I needed to graduate here. As my new counselor sat there explaining this to me I remember feeling so angry. I had worked so hard trying to keep up with my school work and now they were taking my hard earned credits from me? I felt like throwing in the towel again, but I reminded myself of all I had been through and realized that if I quit, I myself would be robbing me of the things I worked so hard to achieve.
We lived in Odessa for about a year through the rest of my junior year and part of my senior year. I was having personal problems with my family, so I decided that I was going to move on my own back to San Antonio. I told my mother that I was just going for two weeks to visit but I intended on staying.
My son, his father, and I moved in with one of their cousins on the southwest side of town and I enrolled at the San Antonio Can! Academy again. We moved around many times throughout my senior year and lived with different people but I kept attending the “…Can! Academy.” I finally completed my high school education in 2006, though I did not receive my diploma due to failing the science part of the TAKS test.
Over the next two years I would return to the San Antonio Can! Academy every April, October and February to retake the science part of the test, only to see my scores drop lower and lower. My counselors and I soon realized that it did not help for me just retake the test over and over again, but that maybe I should attend a couple of science classes for a month or so to refresh my memory, then retake the test. It worked. Two years after completing high school, I was finally receiving my high school diploma, and was able to proudly “walk the stage” on February 8, 2008.
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