A 15-year-old student at the Edward Sam Accelerated School now has her high school diploma. But to get that diploma, she had to overcome tons of obstacles, including having a baby two years ago.
“I still had plans to finish school, like getting pregnant didn’t making me want to stop school. It actually made me want to finish,” said Ronjanae Howard.
At 12 years old, her life took an unexpected turn. But despite having her son, Jaceion, quitting school was never an option.
“[I wanted to continue] just to show everyone that told me that because I have a child, I couldn’t do anything with my life,” she said.
Her path was not an easy one.
“He was a [premature baby] so he gets sick really fast so we always had our days where we were out of school because the weather was changing. And then we didn’t have transportation, so we would walk every day. So if it rained, we couldn’t go to school,” she said.
There were days where Ronjanae felt like giving up, but with the support of her family, she stuck through it. Her mother, Kawanda Howard Degruy, said she would tell Ronjanae, “the world is going to look at you because you made a mistake but don’t let that mistake stop you from doing what you want to do with your life.”
At Edward Sam Accelerated School, a non-traditional school for students with special circumstances like Ronjanae’s, she was able to persevere.
“I’ve been in Lafayette Parish for 32 years and if it has happened I’m not aware of it, that a student at 15 years old would graduate high school,” said the school’s principal, Jody Duhon. “So to have that type of determination and that she was so focused and so driven to get it done, I just have so much respect for her for that.”
With flexible hours and a daycare on campus, she finished high school two years earlier than most other students.
“I feel like if I was still in traditional school I would’ve dropped out,” said Ronjanae.
She said her struggles have only made her stronger and hopes her story can help others going through similar situations.
“Have faith in yourself because so many people are going to tell you can’t do it and they’re going to doubt you and then you’re going to start to doubt yourself. And you’re going to feel like everything they said is going to be true for you, but you just have to pull through and prove them wrong. Show everybody that what they thought you were going to be, you’re not,” she said proudly.
Ronjanae wants to continue her education and hopefully attend Delgado University in New Orleans to be a mortician. Her goal is to one day own her own funeral home, “but that might change, who knows.”