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Sydell’s Story

After the death of several loved ones, Sydell struggled with her grief and eventually dropped out of high school. She reenrolled the next fall to complete her senior year, but discovered she was pregnant just a few months later.

“That summer, I was in a really dark place,” said Sydell, who was 19 at the time. “Then I told myself ‘I’ve got to get out of this. I’m not like this.’ So, I went back to school and then I found out I was pregnant. These obstacles just kept coming in my way.”

She said she hid her pregnancy from her classmates because she was embarrassed and didn’t want them to judge her. She even waited until 3 months to tell her mother because she they don’t have the best relationship.

Sydell, now 21 years old, was referred to New Moms by someone at school and connected with our Family Support program. She started home visits with her personal coach, Jasmine Stewart, and prepared for the birth of her daughter, Sophia.

Sophia is now Sydell’s biggest motivator. She said she wants Sophia to believe in her dreams and to know that she is always going to be there for her no matter what.

“I never pictured myself having a kid until I had her,” she said. “It was crazy. I didn’t think I was going to cry when I had her. [But] I cried when I had her because it was like ‘wow’ I really have a baby. It’s real.”

Sydell said she is proud of how she has matured during her time with New Moms. One of her goals was to better control her temper because she used to bottle up her emotions and then act out. She said she doesn’t want her daughter to see her angry, so she has been working on finding more positive ways to process her emotions.

She said writing is one of the best outlets. She said she likes writing screenplays best because she has always loved movies and theatre. She is currently working on a film inspired by the 2Pac song “Brenda’s Got a Baby” that’s based on her own experience and the experiences of other young moms. She said her dream is to one day win an Oscar.

Her immediate goal is to enroll in college either to study writing and film or to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). She said wants to find a program that is flexible and allows her to keep her job at Jewel Osco and take classes. She would also like to move into her own apartment and get her driver’s license.

Sydell felt so welcomed and supported by the New Moms community that she has referred at least five other young moms to the program. Her coach Jasmine said Sydell been a true advocate for her peers.

Her advice to other moms is to find programs like New Moms and surround themselves with supportive people. She wants other women to stop doubting themselves.

“Everybody needs to follow their dreams no matter what,” Sydell said. “No matter what anybody says. Not matter how is looks. […] There’s always a way to get what you want.”