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Stories from Students: Pregnant at 14, Successful at 21

Pregnant at 14, Successful at 21

Jesse Viles, now 21, was 14 when she became pregnant with her daughter Halie, now 7. At the time of her pregnancy, counselors at Herndon High School "suggested" that Viles leave her home school behind and leave her honors classes to attend Mountain View.

"Herndon didn't want me; there were a lot of pregnant teens and they said, 'Hey, Jesse, I don't know you, but I've got this great idea for you and it's the best thing for you,' blah, blah, blah," Viles said. "'Why don't you talk to your mother and get back to me tomorrow?' That was the day I turned in my letter which stated I couldn't participate in the kinds of sports they were doing because I was pregnant."

Viles' mother also had her first child when she was 14, and she didn't finish high school at the time, although she did get a college degree a year ago.

"I knew that was probably what was going to happen to me, I was going to do the same," Viles said. "I was going to be a 14-year-old mother just like her, I was going to drop out, I was going to get married to the guy — the cheater, beater, womanizer, that kind of thing — and that was probably my future and I was ready to handle it at that point."

But Mountain View offered Viles a program called Project Opportunity, to help pregnant and parenting teens attend school while they learn parenting skills and take life-planning classes.

Mountain View and Project Opportunity let Viles continue to dream.

"I accepted the fate that I wasn't going to graduate and then I came here, and it was definitely easier to deal with day after day," Viles said. "I'm sick every morning, but here I am, give me my assignment."

Her senior year of high school, Viles worked at UPS from 3-8 a.m., while her daughter slept under the watch of Viles’ mother. “I came to school dirty and grungy and everything, and I took my little mini-bath in the bathroom and changed my clothes and got to class. That’s what we had to do.”

Viles graduated in 2000, earning a $25,000 college scholarship. She attended Northern Virginia Community College for two years, earning her associate's degree, and now is studying international relations at George Mason University, where she will graduate in December.

Viles, a single mother, also works full time at Chevy Chase Bank in Herndon.

"My daughter has been a blessing since Day 1," she said. "If I didn't have her, I wouldn't have done what I've done so far. It's more in her honor. It's not what I want, it's what I want for her that's keeping me going."