SUCCESSES: Mothers (from left) Katie Dickinson with Ella Clark, 3, Jasmine Youle with Carter, 2, and Natasha Pedersen with Charlie, 6, and Jolie, 2.
SUCCESSES: Mothers (from left) Katie Dickinson with Ella Clark, 3, Jasmine Youle with Carter, 2, and Natasha Pedersen with Charlie, 6, and Jolie, 2. Brett Wortman

Teen mothers given a chance at school thanks to STEMM

IMAGINE a young woman's anxiety while completing a final exam for a course that will help determine her future.

Now, imagine the test is done while she's breastfeeding.

Nambour's Katie Wall, 23, faced this challenge in her determined journey towards a better education and improving life for herself and her two young children.

"I was swapping arms so I could write my answers," Miss Wall said of finishing the exam. "I didn't just pass either. I got a credit or a distinction."

Miss Wall is one of four young women who tonight will graduate from the Burnside State High School's Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering and Mentoring program, which assists pregnant girls and young mothers in achieving their education goals despite the added challenges of having children at a young age.

>> Program helps teen mums stay on track with school
>> Young mums get a fresh start at school
>> Doors of learning left open to help young mums get ahead

"I'm excited," Miss Wall said about the graduation. "I was determined to make something of my life."

Miss Wall became unexpectedly pregnant at 19, and now has son Kris, 3, and daughter Evelyn, 7 months.

She will be honoured along with STEMM classmates Natasha Pedersen, 24, Katie Dickinson, 21, and Jasmine Youle, 17.

All of them experienced unplanned pregnancy at a young age.

MADE IT: Jasmine Youle and son Carter admire the Harry Styles-signed guitar to be auctioned for the Stemm program.
MADE IT: Jasmine Youle and son Carter admire the Harry Styles-signed guitar to be auctioned for the Stemm program. Warren Lynam

All of them have finished the Tertiary Preparation Pathway to qualify for entrance at the University of the Sunshine Coast next month.

"When I fell pregnant with Charlie, it was shock to all of us. We didn't know what we would do," Miss Pedersen said. "It's worked out really well."

She moved to Caboolture to live with her partner, but being away from family and friends triggered feelings of isolation and loneliness.

A friend suggested the STEMM program, so she moved back home to the Sunshine Coast and enrolled.

Miss Dickinson, of Landsborough, had left school young and was working at a supermarket when she became pregnant at 16. Her daughter Ella will be four in August.

She now has achieved a Certificate in Childcare and entry into the USC's nursing studies. Her goal is to become a midwife.

"I just always wanted to help other women go through labour and delivery," Miss Dickinson said.

Miss Youle's son Carter is now three. She now lives with the family of his father.

She has qualified for a Bachelor of Arts at USC but will transfer to law, a childhood goal.

"I didn't think I'd have a chance to go to uni," she said.


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