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Single mom turns life around with college education

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / February 21, 1998

RESERVE – At age 23, Keisha Carter Cain has already been through it, but is finally getting her life back on track.

Cain, who was Keisha Carter at the time, got pregnant when she was a 14- year-old student at East St. John High School. At 15, she became themother of a baby boy, but was determined to finish high school. She was an11th-grader, and with help from her family and God, she was able to graduate on time in 1992, she said.

The only thing that could darken the light at the end of the tunnel for Cain was for her to get pregnant again. “It was unbelievable,” she said. “Mostkids think they can do it and get away with it. But it’ll all catch up withyou. I really let my parents down – big time.”Besides letting her parents down, it was hard enough for her to be a single mother of one, but to be a single mother of two was incomprehensible. Shesurvived with the help of some government assistance that she used as a stepping stone to better herself, she said.

Cain, said that although she was stuck in a very deep rut, she knew she had to get an education. So, with her self esteem dragging, she registered atDelgado Community College to be trained in the nursing field.

“You have to have an education to make it in the world today,” she said.

“It’s a must. But I have always wanted to be something in my life.”Her second son was born and she had to take care of her two boys. In 1994,her first son started attending the St. John Early Childhood DevelopmentCenter as a Head Start student.

Cain became a very active parent volunteer and boosted her self esteem because she was glad that she was doing the right thing by supporting her children. But it was through this volunteering that Cain found her callingin life.

She re-enrolled at Delgado, but his time in early childhood development.

“Head Start played a big part,” Cain said. “The staff members and myfamily members pushed me and told me I could do it. That gave me an extraboost.”The homework was unbelievably rough, Cain said, and on top of that, she had to care for her children – one who had asthma. “But I was determinedto stick it out all the way,” she said.

Almost three years later, Cain’s life had slowly done a 180-degree turn.

She married her sons’ father, moved into a home in Belle Point Subdivision, got off government assistance and most importantly, graduated from Delgado on the Dean’s List with an associate degree in early childhood.

“I want to let single moms know that they can do it,” Cain said. “Theyneed to set goals and not let anything stop them. Especially for those ongovernment assistance. That’s only for a little while. They need to cutthat out because there is no future in that.”Right now, Cain is preparing to enroll in Holy Cross in Marrero to work towards earning a bachelor’s degree in education. Then she plans to workon her master’s degree.

Even though she has high goals for her education, Cain’s main goal is to help the children by impacting their lives. “I want to lay a positivefoundation in the kids’ lives,” she said. “I can show them what love is.”Cain said that she couldn’t have accomplished everything she did without the help of God; her parents, the Rev. and Mrs. David B. Carter; her husband,Craig Cain; her brother, Theron Carter; her two sisters, Karen C. Victor andKeeshawn Carter; and the entire Head Start staff, especially Lelia Fiest.

Fiest teaches the 4-and-a-half to 5-year-old class at the Head Start Center and allowed Cain to do her student teaching requirement in her class. “She helped me a lot with the student teaching,” Cain said. “Shewent beyond her call of duty.”But right now, even though her student teaching is over, Cain is still a very active parent volunteer at Head Start, where her younger son is a student. She is the co-chairperson of the Head Start Parent Committee andchairperson of the Head Start Policy Council.

Head Start is looking for other success stories like Cain’s. If you have oneor know of anyone who has a story to share, call Daralyn Lumar at Head Start. The number is 535-2713.

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