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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lumen: Teen mom found a place where she and her daughter could grow

Anessa Rodriguez, of Lumen High School, earned a full-tuition scholarship for Gonzaga University.
By Joe Everson For The Spokesman-Review

“I knew then that my life would be going down a different path.”

When Lumen High School senior Anessa Rodriguez learned she was pregnant at age 14, she prepared herself as best as she could for the next chapter in her life. She also knew that she wanted to continue her education.

Lumen is a public charter school whose mission, outlined on its website, is “empowering two generations by providing high academic standards, a specialized learning center and wraparound supports to meet the layered needs of teen parents.”

Rodriguez learned about Lumen from a close friend who had attended the school, and was relieved to find that it offered not only a unique academic program, but also child care and support services that she would not have been able to access in a traditional high school. Lumen offers home essentials, a food program for students in need, a baby boutique, and – maybe most importantly – an early-learning day care center.

“When I found out that I was pregnant,” Rodriguez said, “I told myself that things happen for a reason, and that the way I grew up helping to raise my siblings prepared me to have a child of my own. My mom is a single parent with five kids, and as one of the two oldest it was my responsibility to help make sure that everybody got up and got ready for school and got home safe. I also prepared meals.

“School has always been a goal that I’ve wanted to accomplish, and I also want to keep my promise to my daughter that she will always have what she needs in order to be happy and to experience the better life that I didn’t get to have. Lumen has been a school where I could do both things. I have even taken extra classes so that I could graduate a year early.”

Her journey through high school has not always been smooth, with housing insecurity frequently an issue. But even when Rodriguez was moving from place to place for a while, her first thoughts were about her daughter.

“She lived with her dad for a while so she wasn’t moving around with me, but we are back together now and recently got a place of our own.”

Unsurprisingly, balancing school, being a young mom, and even a part-time job has been a challenge, but Rodriguez said, “There have been hard times, but even then I know that there are better days coming. I never thought about quitting school, because I hate to say that I didn’t finish something.”

She will continue her education this fall at Gonzaga University, where she has received a full-tuition scholarship.

Tracie Fowler, Lumen’s social worker, had this to say about Rodriguez:

“She is a brilliant, independent, hardworking young woman. She is enthusiastic about learning, and her eagerness to do great things stems from her commitment to create security, stability, and safety for herself and her daughter. She is a natural leader whose energy and enthusiasm are contagious. I don’t worry about her ability to succeed because she has shown that she is resilient, persistent, and motivated.”