At just 17-years-old, Chelsey Ballard’s life changed forever. The School of Education graduate went from living the life of a typical high school teenager to a teen mom – one statistic Ballard says she never imagined being a part of.
“It’s certainly not easy, but there was never any question in my mind I would go to college to better myself and provide a better future for my daughter,” said Ballard.
According to stayteen.org, less than half of teen mothers graduate from high school and fewer than two percent earn a college degree by age 30. Not only did Ballard graduate from high school, but at just 19-years-old she graduated from the Rasmussen College Romeoville/Joliet campus with her Early Childhood Education Associate’s degree.
“It’s definitely one statistic I’m proud to be a part of,” said Ballard. “It feels good knowing I’m a positive example for teen mothers – that nothing is impossible.”
Ballard says she’s always loved children and knew at a young age she’d like to be a teacher one day. After her daughter was born, her love for kids grew that much more, but the idea of going to college was a bit foreign to her.
“I’m a first generation college student,” said Ballard. “At first I was concerned about starting school, especially with my daughter, but the staff at Rasmussen College wouldn’t let me give up. They called me, even when I was doing well and encouraged me to keep going. They got to know me as a person, and often asked me how my daughter was doing.”
While in college, Ballard made the Dean’s List. She was also asked to participate in a leadership academy and become a student tutor, which Ballard says she learned to love.
“I never thought about tutoring, but I loved the idea of giving back,” said Ballard.
Ballard also gave back to her community through the Kiwanis Circle K Club on campus, where she participated in a blanket drive for children and a cancer walk, among many other things. She says she is truly grateful for her college experience but knows a lot of her success is a result of her own hard work.
“I really pushed myself through,” said Ballard. “At times, I was taking seven classes. My daughter was really my motivation because I wanted to be a good example for her and give her the best life possible.”
Ballard’s dream job is to run an in-home daycare. In the meantime, she recently accepted the administrative assistant position at Rasmussen College. Now, it’s her fiancé’s turn to start his college journey.
“Jon [Ballard’s fiancé] starts at Rasmussen College this spring,” said Ballard. “He was so supportive of me while I was in college, through those long sleepless nights of studying. Now, I get to return the favor.”
Do you have a success story? We are looking for more students like Ballard to feature on our College Life Blog. If you are interested in sharing your Rasmussen College story or know someone we should speak with, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.