By Natalie Morales
Three in 10 American girls and women will get pregnant at least once before the age of 20, meaning there are nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year. The U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world.
Parenthood is the leading reason why teens and young women in their 20s drop out of school. More than 50 percent of teen mothers never graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent of teen moms earn a college degree by the age of 30.
But many young moms are fighting the statistics. Read and hear their stories below.
Hannah Biemeret, 19, college mom
Hannah Biemeret got pregnant at 15. She said because of the lack of sex education available to her, she did not know how to prevent pregnancy.
She initially chose to give up her child for adoption. But when the time came to give her daughter, Halle, to her new family, Biemeret could not go through with it.
“It’s a crazy story that you only see in movies,” Biemeret said. “But, unfortunately, I had to live it. I just decided at the last minute. You have a child and then you see somebody that you made, and I couldn’t go through with it.”
She has remained in contact with the family and said they were very understanding. They have since adopted two little girls.
“I mean, I think about it every day,” she said. “It was an awful situation, and I feel awful that I had to do that to them. There’s definitely always going to be that guilt there.”
Because her pregnancy delayed her progress in school, Biemeret was only considered a sophomore at the age of 16. She attended the Reese Education Center to catch up on the classes she missed. Within a year, she had completely caught up. She completed her high school education and even graduated a year early.
Biemeret now juggles going to South Plains College, where she is majoring in accounting, and raising her little girl.
With the help of her parents and daycare, her college experience has been much easier than she expected. She hopes to attend a university after completing her associate’s degree.
Biemeret hopes to start a project to prevent teen pregnancy so she can help teens who are not educated about the realities of parenthood.
Opal Gonzales, 22, college mom
Opal Gonzales is now a senior at Texas Tech. When she got pregnant with her first child, she had just finished her first year in college.
She was lucky enough to give birth during winter break, easing into the sleepless nights that come with being a parent.
When she returned to school, she attended as a part-time student. After that first transitional semester, she returned to her full-time studies and planned course schedule.
During her unexpected pregnancy, she knew she would keep her daughter, no matter the circumstances she would endure.
It has been a long and tough journey, Gonzales said, but she does not regret a single moment. She even thinks that being a young parent benefits her little girl.
With the help from her little girl’s father, who is also a college student, Gonzales has been able to get through college. She now hopes to attend graduate school while working a full-time job.
“I think you gotta keep the momentum going,” Gonzales said. “Because once you stop, then it’s hard to jump back into it.”
Brianne Godlevski, 22, soon-to-be mom
Brianne Godlevski graduated from Texas Tech in August 2015, with a degree in human sciences. Seven months later, she is expecting her first child with her boyfriend.
The pregnancy was not planned, and at the time, Godlevski was on hormonal birth control.
Although she is worried about finances and paying off college debt, she is excited to bring a baby into the world as a young parent.
Godlevski currently lives in Lubbock with her boyfriend and substitute-teaches for Lubbock Independent School District.
She and her boyfriend plan to move to the Fort Worth area, where she can be a homemaker while he works in the construction business. She hopes to return to work once her child is old enough, so her boyfriend can go back to school to receive his degree.
“Hopefully, he’ll get to go back to college,” Godlevski said. “But he’ll be working, too, so it’ll be a lot of stress for him, I feel like.”
As a young parent, she has taken advantage of Heartline, a non-profit organization that provides free pregnancy tests and sonograms, along with counseling and parenting classes, which Godlevski regularly attends.
Godlevski just found out she is having a girl. She is looking forward to the journey ahead.