Maria is a 26-year-old woman. She has been married for 12 years and has 2 sons, one 12 years old, one 8 years old. She is a paraprofessional.
As a girl, Maria liked school very much but had to leave in the 8th grade because of her pregnancy. At 14 she had to become an adult. There were no more parties, no more dances, no more dreams of travel. She now had a baby and a husband to take care of. Not only could she not finish high school, but college would never be a reality for her. As far as employment was concerned, not many employers wanted a drop-out with a small child. When asking for a reason for not getting a specific job, she was usually told that young mothers are unreliable employees. “What will you do when the kid gets sick? Leave?” That question was hard to answer. So for 9 years she stayed home and struggled to make ends meet with her husband’s meager salary.
Finally, when her children were old enough to go to school, Maria decided to take matters in hand and use her newly acquired free time to complete her high school education. Little did she know how difficult this would be. She had not picked up a school book in 9 years and had lost her ability to discipline herself and concentrate on her studies. She constantly found herself distracted by menial things such as the dishes, the laundry, meals, and by more important but no less distracting things—cranky children.
However, Maria was luckier than most since her husband was not only helpful but extremely supportive. He encouraged her at exam time and was a very good listener. He supported her even though he was teased by his co-workers for having a “professor wife.”
Finally, Maria graduated and had her diploma, and she was able to begin a new way of life.