Any given year in Chicago, there are nearly 5-thousand new teenage mothers.
This year, one of those mothers is a valedictorian, has been awarded more than $80,000 in scholarships, and was accepted to attend 26 colleges and universities.
The teenager’s name is Trameka Pope.
“I was told that God don’t make mistakes and he wouldn’t give anyone a child who wasn’t ready for one,” Pope said.
In two weeks, she will graduate from Chicago’s Wendell Phillips High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
Pope delivered her baby girl the summer after her 8th grade year.
She and her family have been homeless, but she’s never lost hope or her drive to become great.
“I always said that I wanted to make change and I wanted to be in the history books, and I started with myself,” she told FOX 32.
Pope starts her school day by taking college prep courses at Kennedy-King College. She is taking four classes at Phillips High School, including AP Calculus.
After school, when Pope isn’t cheerleading at a basketball or football game, she works at a local grocery store. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and several other extra curricular groups.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, it was Chicago Public Schools’ staff who took Pope on college tours.
School counselors also helped her apply for scholarships, as well as a unique non-profit called ‘SGA Youth and Family Services.’ The organization prepares teens to be parents.
Dawn Jackson is Pope’s social worker.
“Everyone loves her. She’s a people person. She has a sweet heart and kind spirit,” Jackson said.
One in four CPS students drop out of high school.
But not Pope.
“I didn’t give up. I pushed myself hard. And my baby motivated me every day because I wanted to provide for her and I also didn’t want to be a statistic,” she said.
Jackson believes Pope is an extraordinary example of coming out on top.
“No matter what background you come from, it doesn’t matter if you have a child as a teen, no matter what people say about you, you still can, you can make it, and you can become something,” Jackson said.
In the fall, Pope will head to Western Illinois University.
Eventually, she plans to get a PhD in social work.