Interview by 21st Century Scholar, Cece Taylor
Senior from Plainfield, Indiana
Major/Minors: BS in Human Biology with a concentration in Human Health and Disease and a minor in Medical Humanities as well as a BA in Criminal Justice
Why IUB? Tell us what you’ve found to be your favorite part about being a Hoosier.
IUB had been my plan all through high school. We are ranked R1, which means we rank with Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and so many more prestigious universities when it comes to research, which is where my passion lies. This is one of my favorite parts of being a Hoosier: the opportunities are endless. I also love my professors who understand that I have other obligations with being a mother and accommodate this.
How does being a 21st Scholar impact your college experience/ How has the 21st Century Program helped set you up for a successful academic and hopefully professional career?
Being a 21st Century Scholar is the reason I am in college. I second-guessed my entire course of life for a long time after having my daughter, but ultimately, the decision came down to the fact I wouldn’t only be passing up on thousands of dollars in tuition payments if I didn’t fight the fights that needed to be fought and go to college, but I would also be passing up on an opportunity that would benefit my daughter when everything was said and done. In regards to a career after college, 21st Century Scholar is also something that will benefit me. I have dreamed of working at Eli Lilly since my career goal became being a genetic researcher. Eli Lilly commits to having a diverse workforce, and IU’s collaboration with this pharmaceutical company opens doors for several 21st Century Scholars, including myself.
Tell us about your experience being a mother and student. How have you found a balance between being a mother and being a student? How has motherhood impacted your time here at IU?
Being a mother was not even close to my plan for life. In high school, I was the high-achieving kid who was in the marching band and a varsity swimmer. I was the definition of what high schools strive to produce to make successful alumni. When I found out that I was pregnant, I kept it a secret from everyone. I ended up taking a gap year after my high school graduation so that I could have my daughter and bond with her before I went back to school. I fought hard to come to college. I fought the stigma and I fought family members who tried to stop me, but I was not going to stand down and let the opinions of others kill my dreams of being “Dr. Price,” and I wasn’t only fighting for myself, I was fighting for my daughter. Simply put, being a mother and a student is nearly impossible. The statistics of teen parents obtaining their bachelors before the age of 30 is only 2% for a reason. My college experience doesn’t even come close to what a normal college experience looks like. I never got the opportunity to live in a dorm because my daughter couldn’t live with me, so I missed the opportunity of making friends that way. I never got the experience of staying up until 2 am in the IMU to study with classmates before an exam. I never got the experience of going out with friends for the weekend or going to football and basketball games. I always had to pick being a mom. However, being a mom did not ruin my life, like most said that it would. If anything, being a mom gave me an even stronger sense of motivation. I love being a mom, and I can’t image my life without my Jennah Jean. Being better for her and creating a role model figure out of myself for her is truly how I find a balance between being her mom and being a student. Everything I do is for her. Thankfully, she is content with having my assigned readings be her bedtime stories which also how she learned to say the words like mitochondria and cytoplasm. She has a desk beside mine in our apartment where she colors while I do schoolwork. Incorporating her into my studies is how I found balance.
What went into choosing your major, and why’d you settle on that particular major?
Biology had always been my favorite subject in school, and I knew I wanted to go pre-med. Human Biology made sense when looking at those two areas of interest. I picked up a Criminal Justice major after taking K300, a criminal justice statistics course. I love both of my majors and being able to do both has opened so many doors when evaluating career options.
What advice would you give to your freshman self?
Choose yourself. Every day, wake up and choose yourself. Your friends are there for you now, but at the end of the day, you’re always going to be the one there for yourself. When you apply for a job or graduate school, who you know has the potential to help, but you’re the one they’re looking at under a microscope - your grades, your recommendation letters, your experience, your resume. Life is 10% what you go through and 90% how you react. You have to show up for yourself, no matter what that means.
What are some of the struggles that you’ve had to overcome in your time at IUB?
The biggest challenge I faced during my time at IUB has been the stigma and sacrifices. There is so much surrounding the notion of being a single mother who is pursuing her education. I constantly face the judgment of others whether it be choosing to pursue my education rather than being a stay-at-home mom or if it be choosing to stay home with my daughter after being in class all day instead of going out to hang with friends. There are so many sacrifices that I have had to make in pursuing my education, but I don’t regret any of them. I love my daughter and I know what I am doing is going to be what is best for her in the long run. I chose in going back to school, but every decision that I make involving my education is around her. I schedule my classes around what works for her preschool schedule. I do my homework when she is asleep or at school. I have studied by myself since entering college. I haven’t been to a single party or bar since I was in college. I choose her in everything. When she is with me, she is with me, and that is the end of the story. The stigma that surrounds choosing her, but not choosing to stay-at-home mom is something that makes so many people question my motive, but at the end of the day, my Jennah Jean is my everything.
What’s been your favorite IU class and why?
My favorite IU class has been an honor seminar that I took through Hutton Honors College about failure. This class changed my thought process of failure entirely. The entire course was based on changing the mental connotation of the word failure from something negative and shaping it into something positive. This is a class that is currently offered to only HHC students but is a class that I feel should be a requirement for everyone to take because it offers a shift in a framework that would be beneficial for everyone to have exposure to.