‘I know I can make it’

Jodie Campbell didn’t want to be another statistic.

She knew the chances of a high school girl who got pregnant attending college weren’t that great.

Now in her second semester at MCCC, she juggles two hard roles – college student and teen mom.

During her freshman year of high school, at the age of 14, Campbell learned she was going to become a mother.

Despite the challenges she knew she would face, Campbell always knew where she would end up.

“I was going to college. There was never any doubt about it,” Campbell said.

But going to college would be a feat for any pregnant teen to accomplish. According to the organization Family First Aid, less than one-third of teen moms complete high school.

Out of that one-third, a mere 1.5 percent attain a college degree before the age of 30.

Statistics were constantly thrown in Campbell’s face, but did little to deter her from her goals. From the moment she found out she was pregnant, her unborn daughter became her priority.

“Everything I did was for Lilly. I wanted to make sure she would have a good life,” Campbell said.

Teen motherhood has been highlighted in MTV shows such as 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. As a teen mom, she has an interesting take on the popular shows.

“I watch 16 and Pregnant to laugh at it,” Campbell said.

“I don’t really like it. I feel that the girls come from two extremes: they either have a perfect life or they have a horrible life.”

One thing Campbell does like about the show is the honesty behind the conversations between the children and the adults. She feels that they look scripted, but she has experienced first-hand how hard it is to tell parents about an unplanned pregnancy.

“The conversations they have with their parents are real, they’re actually very real, but they don’t happen the way they’re shown. In real life, telling your parents you‘re pregnant doesn’t sound like it came from a script,” Campbell said.

Her parents, divorced since Campbell was 10, had different reactions to the news.

“My mom was super shocked, but she did what had to be done. She made doctor’s appointments. She also cried a lot, and did the whole disappointment thing,” Campbell said.

Her father’s reaction was at the opposite end of the spectrum.

“He stopped talking to me. I saw him once after he found out. When I had Lilly, he didn’t show up,” Campbell said.

A common feature among 16 and Pregnant cast members is they either dropped out of school or their grades suffered. In Campbell’s case, her work ethic actually helped her to improve her grades.

“I was mainly an A and B student, with a few C’s, but after I found out about Lilly, I worked to make my grades all A’s. It wasn’t easy. I went to school all day and then I went to work. Any and all free time went to Lilly,” Campbell said.

During her time in high school, to help give her daughter the life she wanted, Campbell started working at Tim Hortons.

“I would go to school, to college (dual enrollment) and then work. Some days I would be gone from 9 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.,” Campbell said.

“I felt bad because it would fall on my mom. I think with teen moms their moms become  their kid’s moms.”

On top of being pregnant, many of the Campbell’s friends through her freshman year of high school stopped talking to her. According to Campbell, she had two groups of friends: her party friends, who quit talking to her, and the friends she had before freshman year.

“My original friends were really shocked when they found out. They knew me as this innocent girl. But they turned out to be the most supportive,” she said.

With the help of several teachers in high school, Campbell managed to make it through, graduating with honors.

“Teachers were really amazing. They were caught off guard at first and they kind of were testing the water to see how to interact with me.”

One teacher in particular took Campbell under her wing and helped her prepare for motherhood.

“Julie Oddo pulled me outside of class and asked how she could help,” Campbell said. “She got me diapers and things.”

Oddo, a math teacher at Monroe High School, has nothing but good things to say about Campbell.

“Jodie was absolutely wonderful. She never used her pregnancy for excuses. She was very dedicated to her academics and never allowed her situation to get in the way,” Oddo said.

“She came to school up until the day before she delivered. When she returned to school from the delivery of Lilly, she had all of her missing work completed and had to take a test that day she returned –and she aced it.”

Oddo looks back on Jodi as one of her most memorable students.

“I have had other pregnant students in my class and none of them have ever compared to Jodie.”

Monroe High School counselor Sandy Kreps also has accolades for Campbell.

“To be a mom and a student, at any age, is a huge challenge when juggling responsibilities. I admired how Jodi never compromised her desire to be a great mom while staying on track and graduating on time. No easy feat, but one she achieved admirably,” Kreps said.

Since coming to college, Campbell has noticed a big difference in how she is treated. In high school, everyone knew that she was a teen mom. In college, she doesn’t receive any special treatment.

“Here at MCCC it doesn’t really factor in,” Campbell said. “It is more common here for students to have children and stuff. It’s not bad, just different.”

Campbell is currently working towards an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice and managed a 4.0 GPA for the fall semester. She spends all of her free time with her daughter Lilly, who is doing well.

“She is very smart and very sociable. We have all the learning toys for her.

“I know statistics say kids born from teen moms have problems with school, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Campbell said.

In the end, Campbell embraces her experiences as a teen mother. She looks at the glass half-full.

“I know I can take on any bad situation. I know I can make it,” Campbell said.

“I don’t regret having Lilly. Getting pregnant in high school made things harder than they had to be, but I wouldn’t change anything.

“I have Lilly now. She’s my world.”