Name: Samantha Cintron
Age: 25
Children: Niayla Sarie Cintron and Mason Elias Perales
Graduated: 2007
Here’s my story:

Hi! my name is Samantha I am 25 years old. I became pregnant in 2005 at the age of 17. During my pregnancy I was faced with a lot of issues. My first issue was like any other teenager: how was I going to provide for my child, secondly how was I going to finish school and finally was I making the right choice in having her. At first my relationship at home was a bit rocky due to the fact that I was rebelling against my family. Regardless of my situation at home I still had good grades and stood on top of my work. In 2004, I met my daughters father in high school. At first everything seemed pretty good and the relationship was going strong. In Sept 2005 before I found out I was pregnant I lost my grandfather to colon cancer. That day my mom put me and my brother on the first plane to Puerto Rico for his funeral which caused me to miss a bunch of days of school. This hit close to home because he was the only father figure I had in my life and not having that father figure made me feel even more alone. In October of 2005 I found out I was pregnant I was in shock and my mom was really hurt. When I told my daughters father he was lost for words and his mothers first reaction was that she didn’t want him to have any part of me or his child and for me to abort. The controlling nature of his mother forced us to fight and argue. She got exactly what she wanted and he left me 6 months pregnant. With nothing to offer this child my family stepped in and reassured me that regardless of what her father did or didn’t do they would be by my side and my child will not be left behind. I knew from this day that I had to grow up and stand up for me and my child. I continued to go to high school regardless of what my principle or dean thought of me. They would constantly tell me to go to COPE and get out of their school because they didn’t want this reputation in their school. I finished in Harmony High school on May 25, 2006 and on May 27, 2006 I welcomed my first child Niayla Sarie Cintron into this world. I knew from the moment that I laid eyes on her that this love was like no other and that everything I went through was worth my struggle. After a few months I started in COPE which was really great due to my situation. It was tough waking up everyday with my daughter only a few months old to catch the bus to go to school. I met Debbie Newell at COPE and she was so awesome to me and many other girls like me. I knew I was not alone. My days at COPE were a constant struggle because I didn’t have any support from my daughters father. My daughter had no relationship with her father and we had such an ugly court battle that we could never see eye to eye. Although this was going on, in 2008 I went to school and studied pharmacy where I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and thankfully was hired on my internship at ORMC. Within my first year of employment I passed the pharmacy technician certification board where I became a certified tech and now currently Registered as a Pharmacy Technician with the state of Florida for 4 years now. I felt my life finally started and I finally began to live although I knew I could not change my past but I embraced it because my daughter lacked nothing. I thank God for my family because without their unconditional love and support I probably would not have made it. In 2010, I met a man named Ray who I fell immensely in love with and accepted my daughter. He gave Niayla that father figure she never had. We welcomed our first child together, a healthy baby boy named Mason Elias Perales in 2011. Ray has been my rock and has constantly been by our side through everything. Niayla is now 7 years old she loves to draw, paint and loves school. She is such a bright child, amazing daughter and great sister to her little brother. Today my daughter has no relationship with her real father. I have learned that regardless of what you do or what you say, you can not force someone to be a dad. I’m currently waiting for my son to begin school so I can continue with my education to become a pharmacist.

My Advice:
My advice that I give to young teenage girls is to wait. Waiting will guarantee and show you that you have all your life to find love, to have a family and to have a commitment. Education is such a vital accessory that we should thrive to receive especially at a young age. My advice to teen moms is to stay strong, to have confidence in themselves, love on their children and most importantly push forward in getting an education to better yourself and your children. Being a mom is not easy itself, but being a teen mom is difficult. The sacrifices you make for your children change you, break you and eventually make you who you are. Not at any moment do I regret my children or will I change what I been through but I know that motherhood is not for everyone and how you view yourself will impact your success. Focus on you, focus on your education and most importantly love yourself and your children.

Ms. Debbie’s Note: I just want to say how moved I was with Samantha’s Story and how proud COPE is of her pride and relentless struggle to acheive her dreams. She is another example of how hard work and determination gets you ahead in this world and it is this type of story that motivates me to do stay working, praying and guiding my girls!