At 22 years old, Kassandra Perez is looking to finish the course requirements she needs to apply to nursing programs. She could finish in just one more semester, but she’s struggling to balance school with a pressing need for financial and emotional freedom for herself and her 6-year-old son, Jonathan.

“I’ve been looking [for jobs] on Craigslist. A lot of them require two years or more of experience. I need something part-time and flexible so I can take care of Jonathan and go to school,” says Kassandra.

Even with a Medical Assisting Certificate from Silicon Valley Career Technical Education (formerly CCOC), Kassandra was turned down for a job as an emergency vehicle driver because of her lack of experience.

Kassandra enrolled in the Teen Success, Inc. program in 2012 while she was pregnant with Jonathan. She received her high school diploma in 2014 from a non-traditional school (along with her Medical Assisting Certificate) because she could get care for Jonathan there. In 2015, she was one of seven young moms in the program who received a Teen Success, Inc. Scholarship.

“What keeps me going is [my son]. If it wasn’t for him I might not be going to college.”

“Teen Success showed me it’s important to speak and read to Jonathan because without an education he would struggle more. They taught me to put Jonathan and school as my first priorities,” she says.

Kassandra is facing other challenges to completing her nursing pre-requisites – personal issues, relationship problems, and staying strong mentally for Jonathan.

“Knowing that you have to be an adult and be responsible, a mother, growing up really fast, and still wishing I got the teen experiences, it’s a battle.” She says. “What keeps me going is [my son]. If it wasn’t for him I might not be going to college. I love my son.”

Kassandra and fellow Teen Success, Inc. Ambassador Brenda

Jonathan is a kindergartener now. “He’s one of the smartest kids in class,” Kassandra shares proudly.

“Never forget that education is key because no one can take it away from you.” – Kassandra

While she finds her way through school, motherhood, and adulthood, Kassandra still holds hope that other moms like her will make it and that’s why she’s been an Ambassador for Teen Success, Inc. for over 2 years. She loves getting people to support so Teen Success can reach more young moms.

Kassandra (left) receiving her scholarship from Teen Success, Inc. founder Becky Morgan (right), 2015

“Never stop improving yourself for nobody. Keep doing what’s best for you and for your child. And never forget that education is key because no one can take it away from you. You’re not alone and [our kids are] watching us.”