Date of Graduation

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department

International and Multicultural Education

Program

International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Susan Katz

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala Azad

Third Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Abstract

Rather than trying to understand and support teenage mothers, society has stigmatized and marginalized them, even more so for women of color. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of teenage mothers of color as they reflected back on their teenage years in school, at home, and in their communities. Participants were asked to photograph people, places, and things that reminded them of their time as a teen mom. Open-ended semi-structured interview questions along with photo elicitation were implemented to support the young mothers to describe their experiences in school, community, and personal lives during their high school years. Using a critical feminist mothering framework (community cultural wealth, intersectionality, and nepantla), this study revealed how these young women were excluded in and out of school solely by the fact that they were mothers. These findings suggest that teenage mothers find themselves located amidst “in-between” spaces of gender, age, and social constructs that create gendered expectations. Despite the barriers, the young mothers became transformed into complex, loving, and supportive women. The lesson of this study for educators is that we need to help make the transition between childhood and motherhood to be full of support, love, and care through building trusting relationships with our students. Instead of marginalizing these young women, we can – and should - create a space of agency for them to make their own decisions about their futures and bodies through providing constant unconditional love.

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