A few months ago as I prepared a speech to speak to over 200 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) educators I was hit with an eye-opening reality.
In 1991, I became pregnant at the mere age of 15. On a cold day the Spring of my sophomore year in High School Dr. Watson would announce to my mother and I “the test is positive”. In shock and disbelief I thought I would pass out if my mother didn’t beat me to it first. At that moment I was so disappointed in the choices that I had made at such a young age and the impact it would have on our family(my mother being single parent). My mother in her wise wisdom looked me square in the face and said “that is your child and you will raise her”. So young and innocent(somewhat 🙂 ) I made a decision that “Quitting was not an option.” Goals I set…I was determined to reach.
Twenty One years later as I look back at the decision I made “Not to Quit” I realize that it was more than just words, it was ACTION that made the difference. It is easy to talk the talk, but to actually walk the walk shed light on how odds were stacked against me. Months before I found out I was pregnant I had decided that I would major in Engineering when I went to college, but pregnant at the age of 15, statistics say “Teen mothers are substantially less likely than women who delay childbearing to complete high school or obtain a GED by age 22”. Twenty years ago teen pregnancy wasn’t as acceptable as it is today with the shallow TV shows “Teen Moms” and “16 and pregnant”. Although teen pregnancy was on the rise in the 90s, it was not praised or accepted as much. Let’s not stop there.. Statistics also state, ” fewer than 2% of teens who have a baby before age 18 attain a college degree by age 30″. So, the fact that I had decided that I would go to college and major in Engineering before I found out I was pregnant and then decided that “Quitting was no longer an option” after I found out I was pregnant, I had no choice but to follow through with the goals that I had already set. I could not quit a goal I had set before getting started. Not realizing it, but as a teen mother I had picked one of the most difficult majors(ENGINEERING). Statistics today say, “women comprise almost 60% of today’s college attendees, however only 3 in 10 STEM degrees are obtained by women.”
So, as you can see I had gotten myself in a pickle that I didn’t realize and I thank God I wasn’t in to research and/or statistics because after reading those statistics I am sure they would have raised doubt within myself about my abilities. Oh but please, let’s not stop there 🙂 Did I fail to mention I am a African-American women and statistics state, “only 13.4% of Engineering Professionals are women ” and ” the US engineering workforce is composed of 1% African-American Women.”
So, let’s recap the statistics I could have become IF “Quitting was an Option”:
IF “Quitting was an Option” I would not have graduated high school with honors and academic scholarship at the age 17
“Teen mothers are substantially less likely than women who delay childbearing to complete high school or obtain a GED by age 22”.(STATISTALLY NOT SPEAKING)
IF “Quitting was an Option” I would not have obtained a Bachelor of Science degree and Minor by age 24
” fewer than 2% of teens who have a baby before age 18 attain a college degree by age 30″.(STATISTALLY NOT SPEAKING)
IF “Quitting was an Option” I would not have obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering and a minor in Mathematics as an African-American Women
women comprise almost 60% of today’s college attendees, however only 3 in 10 STEM degrees are obtained by women.” “only 13.4% of Engineering Professionals are women “ ” In 2006 the US engineering workforce was composed of 1% African-American Women.”(STATISTALLY NOT SPEAKING)
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph I was hit with an eye-opening reality while gathering data. The reality is statistics show that I had a 2% chance of obtaining a college degree by age 30 as a teen mother, but only a 1% chance of being in the Engineering workforce as an African-American Women. So, chances of me getting a degree as a teen mother by the age 30(2%) was higher than me working in the Engineering workforce as an African-American women(1%). Let me make it plain and clear…Odds were greater that I would graduate college in general as a teen mother, than become an engineer as an African-American Female. So, if you marry the two facts (teen mother + African-American Female Engineering major) what I did should have been IMPOSSIBLE based on statistics. However, because I decided that “Quitting was not an option” as a teen mother I beat EVERY statistic/odd that was against me all while raising my child (since birth. )
So, as you can see ANYTHING is possible if you DO NOT QUIT.. Throughout my life’s journey I have collected valuable life lessons and tools for success along the way that I will share with you weekly in my “NO QUIT ZONE CHALLENGE”. So, I challenge you to become ALL that God created you be, but it starts with a commitment to yourself to see your goals through. Don’t delay START TODAY!!
“NO QUIT ZONE” CHALLENGE: Make a decision today to enter the “No Quit Zone”(within yourself) . By doing so, identify and set goals that you are determined to reach. Once they are set you CAN NOT QUIT them, so you must decide that you will beat EVERY statistic/odd possible. The first step in entering the “No Quit Zone” is to make a decision that EVERY goal you set you will reach. Write 1-3 goals down on paper and in your heart. Once your write them on paper and in your heart not reaching them is no longer NOT an option…”Quitting is no longer an option.” After you have identified 1-3 goals and entered the “No Quit Zone”, your next step is to construct a plan for reaching your goals. However, this week we will stop at identifying your goals and committing(entering the “No Quit Zone”) to reaching them. So, get to writing and I will see you next week with Step 2. 🙂 – Crystal L Jackson