Montoya Major knew that her life was about to change when she moved out to Florida from Alabama to pursue a dual-degree program at Nova Southeastern University in 2017. But, the 23-year-old could never have expected just how big a turn her life was going to take when she found out that she was pregnant while hours away from family and friends.
“I was honestly kind of heartbroken,” Major tells Yahoo Lifestyle of her reaction to the finding out that she would become a single mom at 22 years old.
The situation only became more serious after an ultrasound revealed that she wasn’t just expecting one child, but two. Still, her mind was set on finishing her education and earning her degrees — especially since she’s a first-generation college graduate who was raised by a widowed father.
“My dad ultimately inspired me to acquire all the degrees I have earned,” she explains. “Growing up with a single father, after my mother passed, my dad always instilled the importance of getting an education. He has pushed me and supported me in every way possible to make sure that I obtain degrees in whatever I was passionate about.”
And even after sharing the news that she was expecting, Major says that her father remained her biggest supporter, hopping on the phone with her multiple times a day. But ensuring that she got to her appointments, while also attending class and doing her work was still entirely up to her.
“My ultimate concern was how was I going to finish school and take care of my children,” she says. “I always knew I was going to finish on time, I simply just had to plan out exactly how I was going to achieve my goal.”
One of the most taxing parts in making sure that that happened was taking hardly any time off, both while pregnant and after giving birth. Just days after getting a C-section, which she nearly had to go through herself before a classmate offered to accompany her, the new mom was back in class and getting childcare help from family who flew in from Alabama.
As for her studies and her clinical rotations, she says that having her two little girls, Makenna and Makinlee, motivated her even more.
“I am a completely different person since giving birth,” she says. “I honestly feel like if it wasn't for them I would not have been the strong woman I am today. I would have never physically, mentally, or spiritually pushed myself in ways that I have since they were born.”
On August 16th she will officially graduate with a bachelor’s in cardiovascular sonography and a master’s in health science — adding to an existing bachelor’s degree in biology, which she earned from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University in 2017. Now that the big day is fast approaching, Major took to social media to share her story, where thousands of people have since reacted to it.
“I was not expecting for my story to get as big as it did. My initial reason for sharing my story was because I wanted mothers to know that you can get an education with children,” she explains. “I’ve had so many friends or people I know who are told to drop out of school or actually dropped out of school because they were expecting a child and told that there would be no way for them to finish. I wanted to prove to everyone and society that it is possible. No it won’t be easy, but it is possible.”
Major says that her next step is to move back to Mobile, Ala. where she’ll work for up to a year with the physical support that she’s been missing. Still, she wants to assure other mothers that if her journey taught her one thing, it’s that she could accomplish more on her own than she ever thought she could.
“Don't ever let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do because they are not you. They are not in your shoes and they do not know what you are capable of,” she says. “You can do it, whether you have a village or you’re in it completely alone.”
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