Mission Accomplished! Master’s Degree? Check!

kids at graduation

My husband was browsing through his computer yesterday and found this, my written statement for my Master’s program application. I wrote this as I was trying to convince the coordinators why I would be a good fit for the program and what I hoped to get out of it. Three years later I can say, “Yes. I did all that reading and research and studying and writing for ALL the right reasons.”

I discovered I was pregnant my junior year of college. Having a child was the biggest shock of my life and I was in no way ready for what it entailed.

As a young mother, there is so much you are unprepared for. I had to get my life in order in a matter of months, but I did it, thanks to an extensive support system. I still graduated on time, and with a 3.7 GPA.

But even with my support system, I still felt out of place and alone. So I created a website, www.theyoungmommylife.com, to inspire other young mothers who had the same struggles. I would talk about how different I felt from my friends, how motherhood was much harder than I imagined, and even air out my fears about not being up for the job.

At first, I didn’t have many readers. But as I kept writing and posting, the site began to grow. Two years later, I now have close to 10,000 readers a month.

On my website, I encourage young moms to use my blog as a support group of sorts. But I often get personal e-mails from readers where they ask me questions about their family structure and how to solve various problems in their lives. At this time, all I can do is offer encouragement and push them to make what they feel is the best decision for themselves and their family. But I would like to have a stronger background in child development and family studies, in order to offer more support and guidance to these mothers. This is where the Masters in Human Development and Family Studies comes in.

As the site continues to grow, I am getting offered speaking engagements and collaboration opportunities with large nonprofits. I have built relationships with the Massachusetts Alliance on Teenage Pregnancy and the Filicide Education and Prevention Association.

I was a keynote speaker at the National Crittenton Foundation’s annual meeting and reception in March in Washington, D.C., and participated in its Hill Day, where I accompanied Crittenton agency directors on several Congressional visits to advocate for policy changes that affect young mothers.

My ultimate goal is to create a nationwide support group for young mothers. It would be a single place to connect them with basic needs resources, but also meeting groups, daycare recommendations, job opportunities, and networking events. It would be a place for young moms to learn and grow, surrounded by the support of women who are in the same stage of life. There would be monthly workshops, book clubs, babysitter referrals, etc.

I would be able to build workshops and resources for mothers that delve into larger societal issues, not just those of my own personal experiences. I could offer support beyond what I know and tap into what modern research suggests in terms of building strong families and parent-child relationships.

In short, I would like these moms to be empowered and ready for this phase of their lives. I believe that a stronger background in family studies (as well as possible certification as a family life educator) would help me reach these goals.

My graduation ceremony was amazing and I was fully present as I walked across the stage. I felt so…grown! LOL. I set a goal and I made it. It took longer than I thought and many, many, many tears were shed but I was DONE. I was grateful to have my family there as I got my degree, as they held me down when I felt like giving up!

You all helped push me and motivate me over the past three years as well, so I want to say a huge THANK YOU to you as well. Thanks for supporting me.

Now off to look at PhD programs. (Just kidding.)


  1. I still remember the day that I stumbled on this site and emailed you to tell you how much I love it and how I recently started my own little blog. It was June. And I was finishing up my first year in grad school/ starting my Summer semester. I remember after a couple of email exchanges, you told me that you would be applying to grad school soon, and I remember thinking how awesome it was and how unstoppable you would be once you get the Master degree — you were already a great resource, but with research and credentials under your belt — whoa!

    I’m so proud of you. You are SUCH an inspiration for people fortunate enough to meet you. And I can’t wait to see what comes next for you!

  2. Congrats to you – I remember the day I stumbled on to this site and thinking 23 years ago there was nothing like this when I was truly a young mother.
    I enjoy your website and love how you support mothers – young and old (believe it or not).

    May you achieve all of your dreams!!!

  3. Jasmine Jefferson says:

    I am very proud of you Tara as well as inspired! As we’ve discussed before parenting while trying to manage a career can be very difficult. This evening I was scrolling through Essence Magazine June2013 edition and there you were! I told my mother it makes me proud to see someone I know being recognized, but its even better because you are family. I tip my hat off to you and I know that women throughout the world are being inspired by your dedication and perseverance. I have just started my own company and seeing your success tells me that I have the power and I am not alone in the process. You Go Cuz! May God continue to bless you along the way.
    p.s. Tell TJ & the kids I said hello

  4. CONGRATS!!!!! It’s so amazing to see this!!! I’m so proud of you and this only serves as encouragement for me to keep pushing myself. Even without babies :)

  5. Congratulations, from one Master’s Degree recipient to another!!!! Your transparency and perseverance has encouraged many. Thank you for pushing others to DO more and to BE more, even when it seems that all the odds are stacked against them. As a divorced mom (who’s a bit older) you’ve helped me believe that I can take on any challenge and WIN!

  6. Congratulations on making a goal and sticking to it. Kids are great motivators. I have been in school (off and on) for…wait for it… 23 years. Last year, I decided to finish what I started when my son was 5 months old. Not just for me but as a role model for others. So proud of you for reaching your goals.

  7. I’m very proud of you and happy to see your goals materializing.

  8. There’s certainly a great deal to know about this topic.

    I really like all the points you’ve made.