- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports only about half of teenage mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22.

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/22gEB4z ) reports that Dominique Hall was a good student when she became pregnant in ninth grade, but a school counselor suggested she drop out for a while.

“That first talk - that teen mothers usually don’t finish - made me want to prove her wrong,” Hall said.

Besides, she would be responsible for someone else, and she needed an education to provide for him.

The CDC says children of teen moms are more likely to drop out of high school, to have more health problems, to be incarcerated during adolescence, to give birth as a teenager and to face unemployment as a young adult.

“I knew the statistics,” Hall said. “That’s not what I wanted for my son.”

Edwin, now 7, will see his mom graduate from the University of Oklahoma, where she majored in supply chain management and minored in accounting.

Twenty-three-year-old Hall is excited to graduate and even more excited to begin work on her next degree, a Master of Business Administration.

“OU has taken great care of me and my son,” she said. “I see no reason to leave yet.”

“Dominique is pretty amazing,” said Mary Hill, OU assistant professor of accounting. “It’s a wonder how she juggles all that she juggles.”

This semester Hall worked 20 hours a week and took 16 credit hours, in addition to her commitments as a mom and a member of the Air Force Reserve.

Hill said Hall was able to prioritize tasks and assignments as deadlines approached and get everything done on time.

She asked questions in class, faced challenges with determination and exemplified high academic integrity, Hill said.

“It was a joy having her in class,” she said. “She is a remarkable person. She definitely has dealt with some low points. She just kept pressing forward.”

Hall began a pattern of doing that after becoming a mother at 15.

“I was a baby having a baby,” she said.

Still, she graduated on time from Westmoore High School and went on to Oklahoma City Community College.

During that time, she lived for a year in a group home for women and single mothers. She didn’t like being there, but it helped her save money to get an apartment.

In 2013, she joined the Air Force Reserve and took a year off from college. Hall said her father has been in the U.S. Air Force for 34 years, and it has allowed him to take good care of his family.

The military has impacted Hall in many ways, including paying her tuition.

“I learned respect from the military and my father,” she said.

Hall chose to major in business “so my son can have a really good life.”

“Being a single mom, I knew I had to make sure I had money and understood numbers,” she said.

But she doesn’t plan to be a businesswoman.

Her goal is to earn her doctorate and become a professor, dean and eventually president of a community college.

Hall said her life experiences will help her relate to students who are struggling with financial issues, being single mothers, or returning to college as veterans or adults.

“I love being around students,” she said.

Her plans also include making sure Edwin goes to college and has that “really good life.”

Hall said her parents have helped her a lot, and she wants to always be there for her son.

“I’m responsible for him,” she said. “It’s scary. It always will be.”

___

Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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