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Despite the odds, I’m my family’s first varsity graduate -Young lady who became pregnant at 100 Level

In life’s journey, mistakes often stand as our toughest challenges, steering us into unfamiliar paths and stretching our resilience to its limits. Surprisingly, sometimes, it is after these missteps that we discover opportunities for immense personal growth.

Or so it seems for Abasiono Sunday who experienced an unwanted pregnancy during her first year at university, yet went on to achieve her dream of becoming the first university graduate in her family

My name is Abasiono Sunday, and I’m from Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I grew up in a very strict Christian home, and my parents were my earliest influences. Since they didn’t have the opportunity to attend a higher institution, they were committed to sponsoring their children’s education.

While growing up, I observed that most young girls in my community either learned a trade or got married immediately after completing their secondary school education. However, I made up my mind that I must attend a university.

After I completed secondary school, I wrote my first UTME in 2012 but I wasn’t offered admission. The following year, I tried again and it was still unsuccessful. Since my JAMB scores were not low, I kept wondering why it was difficult to secure admission. That same year, I started a part-time programme at Abia State University, Uturu, but stopped after two years.

immediately after the first semester of year one, I made a very big mistake. A few minutes’ encounter left a lifelong impact on me

I also did a pre-degree programme at Michael Okpara University. While we were expecting to secure admissions, we heard that the National University Commission (NUC) had disaccredited the course I wanted to study. I felt sad for many months. In 2018, I braced up again and decided to write UTME for the fourth time. Thankfully, I got admitted to study Communication Arts at the University of Uyo.

Becoming a single mother
I went to the university with the hopes of making my parents proud. However, immediately after the first semester of year one, I made a very big mistake. It happened that I met a young man who had wooed me the previous year. We are both from the same local government area but from different villages. So, when I saw him, he talked about dating me. Two days later, he invited me to his house and we had sex. Hmmm! The few minutes’ encounter left a lifelong impact on me.

I discovered that I was pregnant during my second semester in year one. I still remember how I cried my eyes out. Prior to that incident, I was a well-mannered young girl who actively participated in evangelism and was admired by my peers. So, I kept wondering what my parents would say if they heard about it. They were strict Christians who held leadership positions in the church. Since I knew having a child out of wedlock would bring shame to my family, I decided to hide the truth from them.

parents should always visit their children who are in higher institutions. Stop assuming they are in school!

When I called the person who impregnated me, he encouraged me to keep the baby. How would I survive as a single mother? I didn’t have any source of income except the pocket money that my parents were giving me. At a point, I thought about dropping out of school, but since I was determined to become a graduate, I kicked against the idea. The only thing I did was to suspend my second-year first semester.

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Mirabel’s arrival
I left school to stay with my baby’s daddy in Port Harcourt without informing my family members. Since they were expecting to see me during the Christmas holidays, I told them that I wouldn’t return because I was learning a skill.

At this point, I would like to say that parents should always visit their children who are in higher institutions. Stop assuming that they are in school, because some of them go out and never return alive.

Because of starvation, I once fainted while breastfeeding my child. I wished I had avoided unprotected premarital sex

While living with my baby’s daddy, things were very tough. He was struggling to take care of me and my child. I used to starve, and there was a day that I fainted while breastfeeding my child. I hadn’t eaten all day, yet my baby was sucking up all the energy I had. Those were the times I wished I had avoided unprotected premarital sex.

Since I was hiding my child from my family, I couldn’t even call them for financial assistance. So, we kept managing. When the cash inflow became so low, my baby’s dad sent me to stay with his family in the village. At least, I was sure of getting two square meals over there. Remember that we are both from the same local government area. So, one day, someone who knew my parents saw me in that village and told my family members. Of course, everyone was shocked when they heard that I had a four-month-old daughter. So, they asked me to return home.

When I stepped into my father’s house, I was like a prodigal daughter. “Is this child the certificate we sent you to obtain?” That was the question my mother asked me. For weeks, I couldn’t look at the faces of any of my family members because I was so ashamed of myself. Thankfully, they forgave me and accepted my child into the family.

Back then, I hated myself so much and kept regretting my mistake

Bouncing back after experiencing setbacks
According to American former Little League Baseball pitcher Mo’ne Davis, ‘Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance.’ My academic leave elapsed just before the COVID-19 era and since most states were on lockdown, I had ample time to nurture my baby. Finally, when school resumed, I pleaded with my parents to give me another chance. Thankfully, they accepted to pay my school fees, and that was how I came back to Uyo with my daughter and younger sister. She was the one who looked after my child while I went to school.

Schooling as a single mother wasn’t easy at all. There were times I was stressed out, depressed, and frustrated. My level of concentration in class was affected, and if not for the fact that I was determined to complete my education, I would have dropped out.
Lack of money was another challenge. Although my parents and baby’s daddy were supporting me financially, I was broke sometimes. I remember asking for help from strangers, and while some assisted me, others said, ‘Na me send you to born pikin wen you never marry?’ Such statements affected my mental health, and that was how I fell into depression.

After I conquered depression, reading my books and passing my examinations became easier

Turning my mess into a message
Back then, I hated myself so much and kept regretting the mistake I made. This went on for many months until one day, I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘Why are you still lamenting about your past? Having a child out of wedlock isn’t the end of life. You can still turn your mess into a message.’

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After that revelation, I prayed for God’s healing touch on my life. Then I began to read about women like Sarah Jakes who had a child when she was still young. Yet, she became a successful minister and businesswoman. Gradually, I started seeing my daughter as one of the most beautiful gifts from above. When I became so proud of her, my inner peace and happiness were restored.

being a single mother isn’t a disability. So, don’t sell yourself for cheap favors

After I conquered depression, reading my books and passing my examinations became easier. So, thankfully, I graduated successfully with a second-class upper and became the first graduate in my family.

Conclusion
One of my favourite quotes by American author and poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, says, ‘There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent, or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.’

After God healed and refined my heart, I started writing and sharing my insightful thoughts online. I also took some training on self-development and public speaking.

My experience taught me vital life lessons. So, I participate in outreaches where I talk about relationships, and the dangers of premarital sex. I also encourage and advocate for single mothers through my online platforms.

Finally, I want to say that being a single mother isn’t a disability. So, don’t sell yourself for cheap favors. Seek empowerment, be hardworking, and with God by your side, all your dreams can still come true.

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