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Teen Parenting Intern’s Story

jessicakatz

Teen Parenting Intern’s Story

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I’m one of the teen parenting interns for the 2022-2023 school year. I’m a first-year MSW student at Loyola University Chicago. In May 2022, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in psychology and a certificate in criminal justice. Before I tell you about my work with Hopeful Beginnings, let me give you a little background on what got me here.

My time at UW was monumental in shaping me as a person and as an advocate. In my last year of undergrad, I wrote and published a piece called “This is my body.” regarding my experience with sexual assault. I was able to be vulnerable, in hopes of reaching others who may be struggling in the ways I have, so I can help them feel heard, inspired, and supported. From there, I connected with hundreds of survivors and began to work with organizations such as Embark and Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment.

These experiences have lit a fire under me, and I’m thrilled to continue my work in mental health and survivor advocacy through my time at Loyola and my work in the teen parenting program. Choosing to work at Hopeful Beginnings was an easy choice; it was the perfect fit for me. I feel comfortable learning and growing in this supportive atmosphere, surrounded by hardworking and compassionate women.

As a teen parenting intern, I attend the teen parenting group every morning, discussing topics such as healthy relationships, reproductive rights, safe sleep, nutrition, and anatomy. I check in with parenting students through individual and group sessions, meeting them where they’re at to provide them the support they need. I also help with options counseling, guiding a student who has just gotten pregnant through her three options: adoption, abortion, and parenting. Lastly, I help prepare educational presentations, blogs, and newsletters for the agency.

I’ve already learned a lot from my students. I’ve learned about the challenges of being a teen parent–the judgment from peers, the constant changes in your body, the abundance of new responsibilities piling on–but I’ve also learned that it is possible to be a mother and a student. Each student has different lifestyles, different backgrounds, and different support systems, but they all display such strength and maturity. They’ve been vulnerable about the people and experiences in their lives that have shaped who they are today. Furthermore, they’ve openly shared their goals of motherhood and how they plan to shape their babies into the best people they can be. What has been most meaningful for me is seeing the growth in my students; even the tiniest steps can truly make a difference in their lives.

As I continue to move through this new chapter, I look forward to more growth and learning within myself and through the people around me. I’m excited to hear the stories of more students and help them work toward their goals, feeling more supported and confident throughout their pregnancy. For me, I’m hoping to learn the basics of social work–interviewing strategies, case note writing, case management, and more–but I’m also leaning on my experiences with my coworkers and clients to be the most genuine and empathetic social worker I can.

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