Teenage parents overcome pandemic learning gaps, graduate from high school

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 10:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Graduating high school is already an accomplishment, but imagine learning virtually while raising children!

Wednesday night, teen parents in Southern Arizona’s largest school district enjoyed a milestone moment.

Brimming with excitement, Mirella Loza felt her hard work pay off as she received her diploma from Teenage Parent High School (TAP). It was a special day for two reasons.

“[It’s my daughter’s 2nd birthday] today on my graduation day; May 26th,” she laughed.

Loza says her achievement is for both of them.

“This day is extra special because of my daughter,” she said. “She is the one I look up to to keep on going.”

Parenting in the pandemic while trying to graduate high school, though, was not easy.

“At home doing school with my daughter is very challenging because my kid wants me to be with her 24/7,” Loza said.

“We have seen a decrease in attendance,” said Norma Gonzalez, the interim principal at TAP. “Not because they had any control over it, but because [they were] online the majority of the time. A lot of them didn’t have internet.”

However, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) pregnant and parenting students were determined, fighting extra hard to overcome barriers. Gonzalez says all five seniors graduated.

“They are all very eager to move on so they can provide for themselves and their children,” she said.

Loza credits God, her family and teachers.

“You know what’s crazy?” she asked. “I never thought I would graduate because of my past.”

Now, she looks forward to attending post-secondary school, with hopes of starting a career in coding.

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