I was the “golden child” who gave everyone from my hometown hope that one of us had made it to college. Then, in April 2011 while a sophomore at Clemson University, I found out I was pregnant, & the world as I knew it began to crumble.
What was I supposed to do? Peers looked at me with disdain and professors encouraged me to drop out & come back once I had my life together. I felt I had failed everyone, mostly myself.
In December 2011, the Friday of final exams week during my junior year of college, I gave birth to my son, Romeo. Instantaneously, life as I had previously known it changed. After discharge from the hospital, I began to pray. I began to ask God for guidance on what was the right path for me to take and I was presented with the right answer during that Christmas break. Over that break, I read the poem, Invictus, specifically the last stanza
“ It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. “
This poem caused me to realize that by putting a proper plan into action, I could succeed!
I decided to go back to school with my 3-week old son by my side with the goal of graduating on time with honors… our journey began!
Romeo being born exposed me to a new world; one of joy, laughter, and motivation! A world where it was no longer only about me, but more so about my life, my career, and most of all me raising this weird miniature human that had some of my awesome physical characteristics. Motherhood did not signal the end of life for me. I did not have to sacrifice my education, my career, or my social life; it actually enhanced all of them. With my journey of motherhood as inspiration, I decided to share my experiences with other young ambitious mothers, with hopes that this empowers and encourages others to not give up and instead have fun, stay focused, and enjoy the journey!
I am now a healthcare leader at a nationally ranked health system, Duke Health, and the Founder of Joy of Romeo, a motherhood empowerment organization that has positively impacted the lives of working mothers across South Carolina and North Carolina. I have used my story to serve on regional advisory groups to help educate youth and prevent teenage and unplanned pregnancy in rural communities.
This failure turned blessing has taught me something that I apply to my life every day, which is make no excuses, take no excuses, & overcome. Failure was my teacher, not my undertaker. It gave me a detour that involved a road full of potholes, spikes, gaps, & much more, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything in the world because I now have my amazing Romeo, resilience, integrity, & the belief that only I can control my future & success because… “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”