D.C. nonprofit offers teen moms hope to finish college
WASHINGTON (ABC7) -- At 20-years-old, Sheila Best is already the mother of a four-year-old girl.
The high-achieving student and former high school track and field athlete never expected to be pregnant with daughter Aria in the ninth grade.
"I decided I was not going to become a statistic. I was going to continue being, performing like, great in school and continue being an athlete on the track field," she shared with ABC7 News.
Sheila did exactly that; graduating fifth in her high school class and is now a sophomore in college.
Trinity University offered Sheila an academic scholarship and she gets additional support from an organization called Generation Hope.
"We solely focus on helping teen parents get their college degrees and we do that by providing each of the students in our program with tuition assistance, one on one mentoring, and case management," explained Generation Hope Founder and CEO Nicole Lynn Lewis.
Lewis started the organization in 2010 after walking in the shoes of the young people she now helps.
"I was a poor young single mom; teen mom. Didn't know where my tuition money was coming from, didn't know where my book money was coming from and it was really scary," recalled the now happily married mother of two.
Twenty-one-year-old Nicole Demetrides found out she was pregnant with now three-year-old Riley when she was a senior in high school. At that point, the teen who dreamed of a career in astrophysics thought she might have to put college on hold.
Generation Hope gave Demetrides the tuition assistance she needed to continue her education. Now a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Demetrides is preparing to graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering. She credits much of her success to Generation Hope.
"They've been just an unbeatable resource because not only do they provide the financial assistance, it's also a support system. They have a mentor program and different training courses," she said.
Best is about to complete her second year at Trinity and feels fortunate to have the assistance she needs to press on with her education.
"Having a child, it makes everything, your dreams and stuff more difficult; but it's not impossible," she said.