LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's a day of celebration for four single mothers as they graduate from the Buckner Family Place.
"Even though I had a child at a young age, my life wasn't over. It was just starting," said 2012 Buckner Family Place graduate, Nohemi Gutierrez.
Nohemi Gutierrez is celebrating a milestone, graduating with her EMS certificate from the Buckner Family Place.
The center provides child services, counseling, and support for single moms seeking higher education.
Graduation is an accomplishment. Gutierrez says she achieved for herself and for her two-year-old, Annalise.
"Not only has she gotten her academic degree, but she has grown personally," said Buckner Family Place Clinical Program Manager, Brenda Dunn.
Dunn says teen pregnancy is on the rise, especially here in Texas. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, three out of ten girls will become pregnant before age 20.
However, Gutierrez is one of four graduates who did not let early pregnancy stop them from reaching her goals.
"It is not impossible being a single mother and getting your education. There's always people out there willing to help you. And, there's programs out there that are willing to help you," said Gutierrez.
While Dunn says teen pregnancy is on the rise, she says Buckner provides single mothers the support they need to be successful in life.
"They have a lot on their plate when they come to us and have to attend school and spend time with their children and get all of their school work accomplished," said Dunn.
Buckner's first graduate came back to encourage other graduates.
"I want to give back, and so this is one of my moments I feel like I can give back. And, I can be able to talk about it, and be able to be an inspiration to someone else," said Buckner graduate, DeLesa Alexander.
Since graduating in 1999, Alexander has become a nurse, proof the Buckner Place provides hope.
Gutierrez plans to finish her paramedic certification in Houston. Ultimately, she wishes to be an RN.