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Students tell their stories: From teen parent to ‘learning about my self-worth’

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lY5OlgHEvss?rel=0&showinfo=0 In researching our edition on "boosting graduation rates for all," the Notebook interviewed young people who had dropped out and were now reengaging in school. We asked why they left, why they returned, and what obstacles they face. Some described heartbreaking personal situations and herculean struggles. But all displayed hope and optimism about their futures. They were all eager to tell their stories.

Shawnese Smith, 18, now a student at YES Philly, described how she "pretty much let myself go" in despair over her relationship with her baby’s father.

"That summer I spoke to my caseworker, who opened my eyes and helped me see that my education is going to be way more important than a relationship."

She expects to graduate in August.

Watch our interview with Shawnese above.

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