Two women who were teen moms and now have successful careers with Kern County's department of Child Support Services (CSS) came to a special Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM) event in Bakersfield in May to congratulate the stand-out participants of Teen Success, PPMM's support program for pregnant and parenting teens. Alice Aguilar and Veronica Munoz of CSS told this year's Bakersfield Teen Success Morgan Scholarship winners – Haille West, Gabriela Villasenor and Adriana Gonzalez – that they know being a teenage mother is not easy, but it's always OK to ask for help.
The young moms read aloud moving essays about the tough challenges they have faced, including getting good grades and graduating from high school while caring for babies – but being dismissed as “just another statistic" in school and sometimes at home. The scholarship winners went through a competitive application process in their Teen Success monthly support group and received up to $2,000 to apply toward their college tuition.
Representatives from community agencies including the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Dolores Huerta Foundation joined representatives from California Assemblymember Rudy Salas and Congressman David Valadao in awarding certificates to the scholarship winners. Also in attendance were members from county agencies and PPMM community partners, including the Kern County Department of Public Health, which had set up information booths as part of a "resource fair" for participants to find information about ways to get help and keep themselves and their children healthy.
It was a great success for the community and the young mothers who worked so hard this year. The emotional spirit of the event was captured during a moment when Adriana Gonzalez was moved to tears as she accepted her certificate – and her baby daughter yelled from the crowd, “Mama!"
Check out the local news coverage here.