Summer is nearly here, which means it’s finally graduation season for millions of American high schoolers. Proud teens and their parents are already heading to Facebook to share photos of smiling teens posing in caps and gowns and holding up one of the first big symbols of adulthood: a high school diploma. Some of their stories inspire others simply because they reflect a huge accomplishment. But the story behind one Texas teen’s graduation photos went viral on social media recently — and for good reason: for her, the road to graduation involved juggling babysitters, pickup times, and feeding schedules. And she was honest with her followers about exactly what tough road it was.
According to her tweets, Twitter user @TriggaVae is 19 years old and is raising her 2-year-old daughter in Dallas, Texas. The young mom has chosen not to share her full name or other personal details on social media. But earlier this week, her personal story about graduating from a local high school quickly went viral on Twitter and on Facebook in a positive message that should inspire other young moms to excel.
On May 14, she posted a series of apparently older photos of herself with her infant daughter in what used to be their daily routine:
According to her tweets, @TriggaVae went on to attend college, but transportation and childcare continued to be huge hurdles to overcome.
Hers is definitely an incredible story. And — because good things happen in the world sometimes — most of those who read and responded to @TriggaVae’s tweets applauded her for setting a positive example for her daughter as well as other young women facing similar challenges. Her photos were shared nearly 5,000 times on Twitter, and by more than 36,000 Facebook users.
But, as one can expect on social media, other reactions weren’t quite as kind. Some users argued that her child might have been a distraction to her classmates; others questioned why she chose to have her baby at all.
Even though teen dropout rates are on the decline for both boys and girls, some 30 percent of girls who do drop out of high school cite pregnancy and parenthood as the biggest factors in their decision, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And while some worried that @TriggaVae’s experience would somehow glorify teen motherhood, or gloss over its challenges, national data shows that far fewer young women are getting pregnant as teens. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released data showing that teen pregnancy rates had dropped some 61 percent since 1991.
So while it might be true that fewer young women and men will have to face the challenges of juggling parenthood and getting an education, role models like @TriggaVae are no less valuable. One of the basic tasks of motherhood is deciding what’s best for the baby and then doing everything it takes — down to multitasking and getting creative — to make sure it happens. Kudos to this young mom for being clear that improving her and her baby’s prospects with an education is well worth striving for.