The graduates!
Proud FloCrit grads

On last night’s episode of High School Moms, we saw Florence Crittenton students in the days leading up to graduation, taking final exams and preparing to say goodbye to their teachers and friends and go out into the world. Some of them are the first in their families to graduate from high school. It was very exciting and a little sad; the students talked about all they had been through together and about “leaving the nest” and tears were shed.

The show highlighted the stories of three particularly amazing students. For the first time we met Evangeline, who is 18 and has a 2-year old son and no help from the baby’s father. She takes a Certified Nursing Assistant class 4 days a week so she can get a good job when she graduates and goes to college. She works hard, and we see her pass the final test. She is named the Valedictorian of the FloCrit graduating class, and seems to be liked by all. You can tell she is going to go far. And clearly the supports available to her at FloCrit were key; in her graduation speech, even she says: “I came here thinking I’d never be able to graduate.”

Carla, who we have met in prior episodes, has the second highest GPA in the class. She and her family have been through so much, including the recent loss of her brother, but she is very focused on her goals and says: “I want to show everyone you can do what you want and be a teen mom.” Her best line was: “People who judge teen moms . . . one day they’re going to be working for us.” And again we see Maria who we met last week, who profoundly observes: “People don’t see you like a mom, they see you like a stereotype; I’m gonna show them wrong.”

Regina and her daughter
 Regina and her daughter

And then there was the story of Regina, 16 years old with a one-year old daughter, who is sent back to ninth grade because she does not have enough credits. She has a lot going for her – she scores very high on assessments and, if she gets to college, will go free for 4 years because her father died in military service. But she is so discouraged. She has a hard time getting up in the morning, so most often she does not make it to school. In a meeting with the principal and her mother, she decides to drop out and pursue a GED. It’s unclear how she thinks she is going to make it in college if she can’t even get herself to her high school classes, but no one talks about that, or about whether passing the GED test means that she will be ready for college academically (it doesn’t). She just wants to graduate as soon as possible. And then the morning of the GED test, she can’t find her ID, which she needs in order to take the test. It was starting to look hopeless . . .

But at the end of the show, we are told that Carla is studying to be an X-ray technician, Maria is in college studying physical therapy, and – wait for it – Regina decided not to take the GED test, will return to school at FloCrit, and hopes to one day be a singer or a cardiologist. Yes! As a number of the graduating students demonstrated and articulated in one way or another throughout this interesting series: if you hold on to your dreams, don’t listen to the naysayers, and work hard (and go to a school that addresses the needs of pregnant and parenting students) – you can and will succeed. Go for it!