Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Sashell lays down the 'law' - Children are not ready for babies

Published:Sunday | September 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis
Sashell Hall, past Women's Center of Jamaica Foundation student.

Becoming a teenage mother was never in the plans for Sashell Hall, but today she is convinced that her now 10-year-old daughter put her on the path to achieve what she has so far achieved in life.

When Sashell got pregnant at 15 years old, she was shocked, disappointed and unsure of how to proceed with her life.

She said her father, with whom she lived in Duhaney Park at the time, felt the same way and questioned how she could have let that happened to her.

According to Sashell, despite her disappointment, she was determined to face the future no matter what, and even when family members encouraged her father to put her out of the house, she didn't let the negativity faze her. Thankfully, her father didn't listen to them.

"I assessed the situation and I made up my mind that I was not going to get rid of it (the baby) even when that was presented to me as an option. I started to look at the different routes that I could take," said Sashell.

She told The Sunday Gleaner that she accepted that people would say she was worthless to get pregnant so young but she was determined not to let that mistake determine her future.

"The next step was to go to the Women's Centre, and I got enrolled," said Sashell.

She told our news team that the experience at the centre was warm and memorable.

After having her baby, she started worrying about heading back to school and how she would finance it. Luckily, she was awarded a scholarship and continued her education in grade 10.

"Teenage pregnancy disrupts your life, you have no social life, but I was so focused. I keep telling myself that I can't waste my time like other students because my daughter was depending on me.

"Looking back now, I didn't even realise how getting pregnant so young could be so traumatic. At 14 you are not developed emotionally, physically, or financially to have a child," said Sashell, who is thankful that her stepmother supported her by helping with her child when she was at school.

At the end of grade 11, Sashell received five academic awards, passed seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations subjects and graduated valedictorian.

 

Part-time job

 

Sashell received another scholarship to go to sixth form, and while there worked part-time at a lab so she could continue to support her daughter. She completed secondary school and was accepted at the University of Technology to study law, which she paid for using student loan and grants.

Having completed her law degree last November, Sashell is looking forward to the next step on her way to becoming a lawyer.

The now 26-year-old works at a financial institution and sits on the board of the Association of Caribbean Students' for Equal Access to the legal profession.

Having made it through what she describes as her worst days, Sashell has no regrets but she is cautioning young girls to avoid her route.

"At first, I realised that I didn't love (my daughter) fully because there was a part of me that rejected her. It was like I had to put my life on pause because of her, but I think that was the driving force.

"But if that didn't happen (pregnancy), I think my life would have turned out otherwise," said Sashell.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com