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Graduation: Amy Chandler – Carson grad tackles a tough lesson

By Sarah Nagem
Salisbury Post
For the past two years, the hardest part of the day for Amy Chandler was when she walked out of her parents’ house and headed to Jesse Carson High School.
Amy didn’t dislike school. She just hated to leave her son, Brandon, who is now 22 months old.
But that has been her life since she had Brandon during her sophomore year.
She got out of bed and went to school while her mother, Cindy Chandler, watched Brandon, then came home from school to tend to her son.
She did most of her homework during the school day. She’s graduating with a grade point average of about 3.4.
Amy knows her life is very different from most of her classmates’. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m not the same person I used to be,” she said. “I’m a little bit more patient and responsible.”
During her sophomore year, Amy started dating a boy she had met at church. He was two years older.
One day as she and her twin sister, Beth, were riding the bus to school, Amy began vomiting. When she continued throwing up in the school bathroom, Beth called their mother.
Cindy picked up her daughter from school and asked the dreaded question ó was there any possibility Amy could be pregnant?
The reality soon set in. The Chandlers had considered adoption. But in the end, Amy decided against it.
“After you carry a baby for nine months, how can you do that?” she said. “He’s my responsibility.”
Cindy Chandler knew she would have to help out with her grandchild. She had recently fought ó and won ó a battle with breast cancer, and she still felt tired.
“I sort of panicked,” Cindy Chandler said. “I said, ‘I cannot take care of a baby.’ “But she quit her job with the office of the Rowan County Clerk of Court to babysit Brandon.
Amy is no longer dating Brandon’s father. He isn’t paying child support right now, she said. That leaves Bob Chandler, Amy’s father, to support his daughters and grandchild.
Bob Chandler works at Carolane Propane Gas in Salisbury and maintains a computer business on the side.
“It’s been a struggle,” he said.
Amy said that having a child at a young age has changed her ó in good ways.
Before she got pregnant, she swore she would never have children. Her educational and career goals were shaky at best.
Brandon changed all that.
She plans to take classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the fall and enroll in the school’s nursing program in 2009.
“He motivates me,” Amy said.
Her family noticed a difference.
“She just changed overnight,” Cindy said. “I couldn’t believe this was the same Amy.”
But it was the same Amy, changing diapers and nursing her son.
Through it all, the teachers at Carson were helpful, Amy said. When Brandon was nursing, teachers excused Amy from parts of classes so she could pump milk.
“The teachers were so supportive,” Cindy said.
Even so, Amy felt like she missed out on some of her childhood.
“I had to grow up real quick,” she said.
Amy didn’t go to the prom her junior or senior year. She joined the swim team last year, but it took too much of her time away from Brandon, so she quit. She did remain on the student council that year and was involved with the yearbook and school newspaper.Her senior year, she worked on the yearbook and participated in a teen parenting program, where she made friends who understood her situation.
Some of her old friends aren’t so friendly anymore, Amy said.
She plans to take the state board exam this month to become a certified nursing assistant. Amy wants to find a job in a hospital or nursing home.
She said she knows a girl who dropped out of school after getting pregnant. She’s happy she made another choice.

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