Jaidah Phillips, Jerica Phillips’ 17-year-old daughter, graduated from high school, causing her mother even more pride than normal.
Jaidah was already a mother when Phillips graduated from high school, having been born at the age of 17 at the start of her senior year.
Phillips used social media to chronicle the full-circle mother-daughter event, posting “how it’s going vs how it started” posts that immediately went viral.
“It was a success! My greatest flex has been motherhood “Phillips shared his thoughts on LinkedIn. “In my senior year of high school, I gave birth to this lovely young lady. Despite the apparent challenges of being a teen mother, I knew I couldn’t give up on my ambitions if I wanted her to achieve her full potential.”
Phillips, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, told “Good Morning America” that she wanted to capture the moment for herself and her family, but she’s delighted it’s now inspiring others.
“I didn’t anticipate my tale to be able to inspire so many others,” she added, “but I’m grateful for the opportunity.” “I’m glad that this trial in my life has turned into a testimony.”
Phillips’ life was put to the test when she fell pregnant and gave birth to Jaidah in the first semester of her senior year. She resumed her studies and graduated with her class on schedule.
“I was in the top ten in my class, taking all these advanced classes and honors, and I could tell a lot of my teachers were disappointed in me,” she added. “As a result, it drove me to overcome all stereotypes. I wanted to demonstrate to professors and those who I thought were disappointed in me that I was still capable of achieving all of my academic objectives and dreams.”
Despite her family’s requests to stay in Memphis for college, Phillips decided to pursue an academic scholarship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She included Jaidah in her college experience.
Phillips stated of her then-infant daughter, “She was welcomed everywhere on campus.” “I took part in cultural events and charity work, as well as joining a sorority. I would carry her everywhere, and she quickly became the campus’s baby.”
Jaidah’s father, Phillips’ high school love and future husband, moved to Knoxville to assist care for Jaidah while Phillips pursued her dream of being a first-generation college student.
Phillips credited a slew of “blessings” along the way, ranging from professors who enabled Jaidah to attend classes on occasion to a day care director who allowed Phillips to pay Jaidah’s tuition by semester rather than month because she only received financial aid once a semester.
“Everyone backed me up, and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve it without them. That is something I am certain of “Phillips, who shared off-campus housing with Jaidah, agreed. “I was worried about having her there and what people would think, as well as not being able to care for her and having to send her back with my mother, who didn’t know who I was.”
“I couldn’t have done it without the village and the support system of all of my peers, friends, and sorority sisters,” she said. “All of that boosted my confidence and motivated me to keep going.”
Phillips said her own motivation for finishing college while raising a toddler was to give Jaidah the future she deserved.
“My parents provided me with a wonderful childhood, and I knew she deserved it no matter what difficult choices I had made,” she added. “I was willing to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to provide her with the life, chances, and exposure she deserved.”
When Phillips graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2008, Jaidah, who was 4 at the time, was right by her side once more.
“At the time, getting a college diploma was the greatest success for me,” Phillips remarked. “Having my parents there, and especially having [Jaidah] by my side, allowed me to show her that she can do anything, that if I could achieve my ambition, she could dream even bigger.”
After graduating, Phillips returned to Memphis and began working as a television news reporter and anchor. She then married Jaidah’s father and had three additional children with him.
She is overjoyed to learn that Jaidah will be attending Texas Southern University this fall and will have her own college experience.
“When we went back to Memphis, she was still a toddler, and I told her, ‘Jaidah, you’re going to go to college one day and do this and that,’ and she answered, ‘I’ve already been to college,’” she says. Phillips chuckled at the recollection. “Seeing her off to college will probably be one of the most difficult moments of my life because we won’t have that relationship where she’s always at my side.”
“She’s been my constant companion since I was seventeen years old. ‘Wow, this is true,’ she says now that she’s 17 “she stated “As she rises to new heights, I want her to dream and achieve whatever it is she wants to do.”
Phillips now works for Shelby County Public Schools as the chief of communications, where her mission is to identify and share the amazing tales of the county’s children. She didn’t understand she had her own inspirational narrative until she got a response on social media, she said.
“I want others to see hope and be encouraged because of the success of my narrative,” she stated. “I understand that education is a viable option. I believe that education is the potential to move you to the next level and the passport to a brighter future, regardless of where you were born or what trauma you’ve experienced.”