‘Teen mothers can flourish too’ : The story of young mother whose graduated top of her class

A young mum graduating top of her class from the University of Bristol wants to shatter the stigma that teenage mothers are ‘lazy or irresponsible’

This November, Andante Singer graduates top of her class of 180 with a BSc in Psychology, her three year old son Atticus watching from the audience as she walked across the stage in the university’s Wills Memorial Building.

Andante, now 23, fell pregnant during her A levels, and after sitting her exams four months pregnant, secured a place at the University of Bristol 

Andante’s story is a hugely inspiring one and she has proven that teen mothers don’t just have to aim for survival but can thrive and exceed expectations. Andante is a testament of this, achieving 90% grades in some of the course’s hardest units, she has also been given a prestigious British Psychological Society Undergraduate Award.

Dispelling the stigma around teenage pregnancy

Andante said: “There is a myth that teenage pregnancy happens to a specific type of person, but these things can happen to anyone…to label someone as lazy or irresponsible because of something like that is so horrible and harmful.”

The stereotyping of teenage mothers that happens too often in our society is something that Andante had to deal with during her time as a student, despite this she has been able to overcome the stigma around her situation with all she has achieved. 

She went on to say: “I’m not glorifying my situation at all because it has been really hard, but the one thing I would want other people to know is that if you do find yourself in that situation, there are options.”

Andante’s story is proof that there are often more possibilities available to you than you might think and if you believe it is possible, you can do more than what society tells you you can do. 

However there are still many judgements directed at Andante and other teenage mothers

“For a long time I’d try to wear clothes that made me seem older because I didn’t want to stick out. I just wish people wouldn’t assume and judge others. Mums in general just get so much stick, no matter what their situation.”

“I only had one view of teen mothers, the one I saw in the media and everywhere else. I thought there were two choices: to either not have the baby or to face stigma and struggle.

Andante received a bursary from the University of Bristol and was able to access the support she needed, including reduced fees at the University nursery, which made it possible for her to attend. She credits her ‘supportive family’ for helping her out along the way.

She said: “Once I knew that support was in place I was able to make the right choice for me.”

Professor Sarah Purdy, the University of Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience (and a part-time GP), said: “Andante’s incredible success shows that there isn’t just one type of person who goes to university – and that no matter your situation you can thrive when you get here.”

What’s next? 

Andante is now a reading mentor in a school. She plans to do a psychology PhD before becoming an academic researcher.

She also has other aspirations to use her story to help other teenage mothers: “I’d love to reduce the stigmatisation of teen mothers by showing what I’ve accomplished; I hope that will allow others in my situation to flourish.”

Her son is certainly growing up with an incredible role model and an inspiration of a mother and Andante is “so glad I made the decision I did. Atticus is so great and everyone that meets him just loves him.”

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