Kwantlen student turns the tables on stereotypes

November 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

At the age of 18, most are struggling to a decide whether to enter post-secondary school or to continue living off the bank of mom and dad.

But, at 18, Raedel Campbell has already graduated from high school, is well into her first semester at Kwantlen, and has given birth to a child.

“It was February 2009 and I was in school, so I was young. Grade 11 I found out, actually,” said Campbell. “With my parents, at first, it was a bit of a fight, but they realized I am pretty stubborn because I wanted to keep the baby. So they decided not to stress me out, because that’s bad for the baby, and became totally supportive, and were totally excited to be grandparents.”

The pregnancy did not stop Campbell from completing high school in the most normal fashion possible. “I did get to go to grad, I have my diploma. It was all on time so I am not behind at all,” she said.

Campbell is now attending university, working and attempting to maintain a social life, all the while raising one-year-old Hayley.

“I have been [at Kwantlen] since September, and I am in the arts program, but I am just taking some electives toward a social services diploma that I will be transferring to UFV to complete, hopefully next year,” said Campbell. “I have four courses right now: Creative writing, English, anthropology, and communications, and it’s tough to handle for sure.”

Campbell’s experience with young motherhood has steered her career aspirations.

“I want to be a family support worker, and eventually work up my way and try to help out young moms, cause I’ve been through it. That’s what has inspired me,” she said. “I wanted to be a chef for a really long time, and after I had my baby, and went to a young parents group, I realized I wanted to help other young moms. I know I am someone they could relate to. And I want to be a really good mom, I want to have more kids, so I would need a good career to do that.”

“Teen moms” carry a negative stereotype, especially in the eyes of judgmental teens in high school hallways. But Campbell has fought to sustain a positive disposition and confidence in her decision.

“When I was first pregnant I’d get stared at, and people would be like, ‘Oh, what’s she thinking?’ I would get very upset about it. But then I realized I am not a normal young mom. A lot of them don’t go to school, and I know I am doing everything I can to provide a good life for my daughter. I am going to work, I am going to school, and I graduated on time. So I just kinda laugh, because they can put any stereotype on me, but I know it’s not true,” she said.

Content with the direction that her life has taken, Campbell says she wouldn’t change a thing.

”I’ve been pretty happy with everything. I think it’s the best thing to have happened to me. The father and I are actually back together and engaged. So things have gotten better between us.

We weren’t together for the entire pregnancy, and as hard as things were, it was the best for both of us not to be together,” she said.

With movies such as Juno, and TV shows such as “The Life of an American Teenager,” teen pregnancy has been brought into homes as a reality, but there’s also a stigma of what it means to be a teen mom. Campbell, with unwavering confidence, has taken it on herself to overcome all of that.

Her advice for other young moms and dads, enduring her same struggle is simple: “Keep your head up. Keep pushing because you can’t let other people get you down. Keep your dreams intact.“