BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
Two young moms are getting some financial relief tonight as part of an annual scholarship awarded through Planned Parenthood.
The funds help open the door to college.
Teens who suddenly become parents are getting help here through "teen success," a program offering support as they continue to follow their dreams.
Ana Lara is finding a new appreciation for motherhood through her 16-month old baby girl, Ruby.
"It's amazing. I love her; I wouldn't see myself without her," she said.
As a high school honors student, Lara had to put her studies on hold. She began to participate in Planned Parenthood’s Teen Success program learning about parenting, focusing on education and setting goals. Lara is the recipient of a $2,000 scholarship.
"It was hard. I had to make choices as a parent and it was something different. I had to think about my daughter and put her before me," said Lara.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teen pregnancy is down 10% despite more than 300,000 babies being born to teen moms last year.
"One thing a lot of people don't know is that these girls are really struggling so it is hard to be able goal set just to finish high school and something like being able to go to college is a huge achievement," said Natasha Felkins, community health educator with Planned Parenthood.
Through the program's Morgan Scholarship teen moms plan for higher education while having a busy life at home.
"I just continue to go to school. I never let that stop me," said teen mom Haille West, who is receiving $1,000 through the grant.
Recipients often use the scholarship for tuition or books, even transportation or childcare.
"It helps me a lot. It helps me feel financial comfortable to be able to continue to finish school and not have to stress about that,” she said.
One of the scholarship winners plans to be a math teacher while the other teen mom says she wants to be a physical therapist.
Both women were celebrated tonight during a special ceremony that included several community organizations.
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