Susharna Roberts refuses to allow an unplanned pregnancy to shatter her dreams
She got pregnant when she was only 18 years old after just finishing high school and was working as a National Youth Service (NYS) participant. She endured life the hard way, but she seized opportunities and proved those who thought she would amount to nothing, wrong.
"I was scared, but determined to prove to the members of my family and my community wrong as I would often hear that my life was over. I was very optimistic and saw my daughter as a motivation to do better," Susharna Roberts began.
She had no idea that life would become so hard and there were many moments of regret and long sessions of crying.
"My mother was very angry and disappointed. She asked me to leave her house and never come back. I moved to Portland to live with my boyfriend at the time and soon realised that we were nowhere ready to be in a relationship, let alone have a child. And to make it worse, I didn't get along with his family. My mom called me one day to see how I was doing, and immediately told me to come home. I guess she could hear it all in my voice."
Though she was glad to be back home, the evidences of hardship were clearer and each day took courage she didn't know she had.
"It was very difficult for me because I came from a poor background: it was already very difficult for my mother to provide food let alone buy baby supplies, but I was blessed to have a friend in my corner who helped me in any way he could."
She also knew she couldn't spend the rest of her life depending on others and quickly made a decision to improve her unpleasant situation.
"I took a job six weeks after my daughter was born and began planning the rest of my life. I opened an Omni account and started saving for college. There were many times when I felt like giving up as my support was minimal, but my boss would motivate me to keep pushing."
She continued, "My mom was also a teenage mother: she had me when she was 16 and by age 40 had six children. I love and respect my mother, but I did not want a life filled with struggles and hardship as hers - that too served as motivation for me."
Roberts soon applied to Northern Caribbean University and started on her journey in search of a better life.
"I can't count how many times I wanted to quit, but I had to keep pushing because it wasn't just about my future any more, but that of my child as well. I took a job as a student security officer in order to assist with my tuition. I would have classes by day and work by night in order to support school and my child as I would use money earned from being a student worker to purchase food and send it back home for my child," explained the working mother.
Many wondered how she was able to juggle everything she had going in her life but Roberts attributes this to a supportive mother.
"I still have days when I look back and wonder how I made it through with work, school and being a mom. My mother was very helpful and assisted in helping to raise my child so that I could pursue my dreams and become a better person."
But even though she had her mother's support, Roberts was still plagued with her own insecurities and felt as though her dreams were possibly too big for her reality.
"After working a 12-hour shift the night before, I would show up to class feeling like a zombie that got ran over by a truck. My clothes weren't the nicest; I couldn't afford to get my hair done by a professional. I would often times feel inferior to the other students - they had everything they needed to be successful and their lives were much easier. I hated that I had to spend my free time working and it wasn't a glamorous job either; I had to hide and bring my books to work to study. I remember once I was tired and fell asleep on the job and was immediately suspended. I went home feeling like I was in over my head and way out of my league: I just wanted to quit and be done with school."
But each time Roberts thought about that tiny human being who depended on her and the many who were expecting her to fail, she got up, dusted herself off and continued on her journey.
"I lived in Santa Cruz while I was attending school in Mandeville because I couldn't afford my own apartment in Mandeville at first, so I would travel back and forth. I had a friend who had a taxi that left Santa Cruz early in the morning, so he would wait on me to ensure I got to class on time."
She added, "I would get up at 5 in the morning to make breakfast and get my daughter ready for school. I'd often book mostly morning classes to make it easier for me to go home early from time to time so I could spend time with my daughter. On the weekends I'd work odd jobs like bartending as a source of income - I did what I needed to do."
Roberts, who is now a customer and sales supervisor, says she is in a happy place with a loving fiance, supportive relatives and another little one to increase the joys of her home.
"I love my little family; my fiance is extremely caring and supportive and his family is just the same. I love planning trips for the entire family and though I now have two children who are looking to me, I'm even more motivated to work for them."
"My wish for my children, besides striving academically, to possess attributes that seem to be dying. I want them to be compassionate to others, caring, honest, respectful and kind to others, God-fearing and dream big. I tell my daughter never be afraid to have big dreams, aim high and make them a reality. We live in an ugly world, but I want my children to be good people," she ended.