Pregnant Tulsa teenager in Margaret Hudson program plans for college, career
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 28, 2012
9/12/12 at 1:50 PM
BROKEN ARROW - When 18-year-old Chelsey Marquette officially becomes a high school graduate in May, she will already have another new title - mother.
Her son, to be named Carter James, is expected to be born April 10.
The teenager has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average and is ranked 20th in the Broken Arrow High School 2012 graduating class. She has already been accepted to two colleges.
"Academics have always been important to me. I ended up pregnant, but I wasn't going to let that mess up my academics or my GPA or anything," Marquette said.
She credits the Margaret Hudson Program with keeping her on track with her education. She attends classes there and receives prenatal services, parenting education, counseling and other invaluable services.
The Margaret Hudson Program, with locations in Tulsa and Broken Arrow, provides a much-sought-after educational option in a state with a high rate of teenage pregnancy.
Oklahoma has the seventh highest rate of teenagers who give birth in the country, according to the latest figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health think tank.
Margaret Hudson opened in 1969 as a nonprofit organization committed to educating pregnant and parenting teenagers to be self-sufficient, contributing members of society.
Although Marquette wants to let other pregnant girls know that they can still get an education and that life goes on, she also learned a hard lesson she wants to share with all teenagers.
"Definitely I would say they should know sex is worth the wait. You should not have sex ever until you're old and married and responsible," she said.
Marquette said she wishes she had listened when the adults in her life talked about abstinence or at least using protection.
"I'm positive there are lots of people having unprotected sex," she said. "The chances of you getting pregnant, it's just a risk. I don't know if they all understand the risk, but it's life-changing."
Her pregnancy was a big shock for her family, and her parents didn't approve, but now they are supportive and proud that she stayed in school.
"If I had stayed at the high school, I see things being a lot different. My attendance probably wouldn't have been as good. I would see a lot of girls want to give up and just drop out of school."
Marquette now has adult worries. Will she be a good mother? What will the father of her baby do? Can she handle going to college and caring for a baby?
"I'm scared of becoming a mom, of course. I don't even think this school could prepare you for that. It's still going to be different when they hand me that little boy," she said. "Right now, it's easy to talk about things when he's still inside of me, but it's going to be a reality check whenever he is born."
Marquette wants to tell other teenagers that getting pregnant only complicates life more.
"Having a baby just adds a whole lot of relationship struggles. It doesn't make things better, that's for sure," she said. "What 17-year-old guy's ready to become a father, really?"
Marquette said she lost most of her friends after they found out she was pregnant.
"Ninety percent of my high school friends stopped talking to me, almost like pregnancy is contagious or something," she said. "After the pregnancy (became known), they just decided not to text me, not to call me.
"For the most part, life is completely different now," she said.
When Marquette goes to National Honor Society meetings at the high school, she gets to see some of her remaining friends. And she has made close friends at Margaret Hudson.
"Whenever I talk to some of my friends from the high school, it just seems like what they talk about is none of my concerns. Their boyfriend drama is nothing compared to what I have to deal with," she said. "I just listen to them and try to be a friend."
Marquette said she is getting used to the looks, some critical.
"I get a lot of looks. It's just another thing about being a teen mom," she said. "It doesn't bother me. They can look if they want to."
Marquette wants to be an obstetrician and will be going to Rogers State University in Claremore for her basic courses. She plans to live in RSU family housing.
Then she plans to finish her degree and enter medical school at the University of Oklahoma.
"It's just different because while most kids are thinking about their dorm rooms and their party rooms, I'm going to be buying a crib for mine," Marquette said. "Ever since I got pregnant, I realized the high school things, like parties and drinking and drugs, ... it's something that kids are doing, but it's not something I would prefer to be doing anyway."
She said she knows she has a long road ahead of her, but she will face the challenge head-on.
"Coming to this school and seeing all the moms who are already here and seeing they're fine - that the world didn't end when they had their babies - it just helped me to see ... you can move on with a baby," she said. "It's not going to stop me."
Margaret Hudson Program has two locations that offer high school credit, prenatal care, parenting classes, job training andon-site child care:
Original Print Headline: Teenage mom-to-be on track
- 1136 S. Allegheny Ave. in Tulsa, 918-746-9200
- 751 W. Knoxville St. in Broken Arrow, 918-251-2647
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Chelsey Marquette, 18, a senior at the Margaret Hudson Program, is handed a doll Thursday by child development teacher Holly Martin. Marquette anticipates going to college despite being seven months' pregnant now. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Senior Chelsey Marquette (right) talks with sophomore Ashley Luko in the hallway between classes Thursday at the Margaret Hudson Program. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Chelsey Marquette (second from left), participates in a child development class at Margaret Hudson. Marquette has kept a 4.0 grade-point average while pregnant. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Chelsey Marquette, 18, plans to go to college and study to be an obstetrician after her son is born in April. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World