by Andrea Almoite

Eight years ago, while she was still in high school and pregnant with her first child, Jaida Williams read an article that stated that 2 percent of teen moms graduate college by age 30. She knew the odds were against her, but she was determined to beat them. “I had to be a part of the change I wanted to see,” she said.

After beginning her college career at another school that didn’t fit her schedule, Williams chose Tyler for its flexible options. “Tyler gave me so much flexibility with work and taking care of my son,” she said. “Having to work a full-time job, having a child, being in school, and dealing with every-day life struggles was not the easiest but coming up with a set schedule really helped me to organize my time as best as I could.”

Shortly after starting at Tyler, Williams realized she would have to push herself outside of her comfort zone and overcome her fear of interacting with new people if she wanted to succeed. “I would choose to sit in the front row of my classes so that I had to be attentive and would get called on by my instructors,” she said. “My favorite class was public speaking; that class gave me so much information and helped me learn to effectively communicate with others.”

“Now, I can easily start conversations with people, which has helped me as I begin my photography business,” Williams said.

After completing her associate’s degree in business administration this spring, Williams has set her sights on continuing her education at VCU while she builds her business. “I can assure you that I will have more than one degree by the age of 30 and that statistic I read in high school will have no choice but to change. I want to show teen moms that if I can do it, so can they.”