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Candace Parks: Teen Pregnancy 

When I was 16 years old I found out that I was pregnant. It was such a shock to everyone because I had been known for being smart, shy, and "good" in general. Initially, I had felt like I let my family down. They've always had high hopes and expectations for me, but I was blessed to have a very supportive family. At 17, I had given birth to my daughter. I was a "baby with a baby" going into my senior year of high school. I successfully completed high school and was accepted into a college who welcomed young mothers. My first year of college didn't go as planned. I struggled with not knowing who I was or what I wanted to do, all leading me to become distracted and looking for love and comfort with someone else instead of myself. At the age 19, I became a mother of two. It has been a journey and they've both been right alongside of me for it. Being a mom has matured me, humbled me, and makes me push myself to my highest potential. Although I've faced many challenges and gotten off course occasionally, I never stopped working towards my goals for our future. The beginning was the hardest part for me, but I believed that I was going to be okay and made a way. Today, I am a mom of three. I graduated from Iowa Western Community College in 2014 and have been working as a medical assistant since.

My advice to you: Just know that no one is the perfect parent, no matter what age. Don't give up. There are going to be many tough days, but also so many

rewarding days.

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