Shauratina Velez waits at the corner of 12th and Atkinson with her four-year-old daughter for the Route 19 bus. Velez, 22, was 17 and a junior at North Division High School when her daughter was born, and it’s been a tough road ever since.
“I don’t have any help, I don’t have nobody to show me the way — you know what I’m sayin’? I don’t have nobody to teach me … I had to learn [more from sources other than] my family to know how to make a resume, how to talk to people. I’m still learnin’ to this day — I’m teachin’ myself.”
“At first, everything was okay,” she says. “I tried taking my daughter back and forth to school with me. But that didn’t work out, so I just stopped going altogether.”
Velez says she didn’t have anyone willing to help take care of her daughter, at the time, and she was skeptical of putting her in daycare. “Father hasn’t been there, never,” she says. “He’s been incarcerated her whole four years.”
“The first time he ever seen her is when I had her — he came the next day. And, after that, I never seent him again,” says Velez, adding that she found out he was in prison through his parents.
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Shauratina, who is in the process of getting her GED, says W-2 agencies have been helpful with learning how to communicate and guiding her through the GED process, at no cost. It’s also been necessary; she didn’t get much help from anywhere else.
“They’re not very involved,” she says of her family. “They feel like, if you’re grown, you can go out and get your own. And, that’s just how life’s been.”
Velez, who miscarried a son in October 2015, is currently out of work, as well. “My job let me go because I was too sick from when I was pregnant. They let me go so … I haven’t had a job since then and I’m looking for a new job, at the moment.”
Shauratina, who takes her daughter to school every day on the bus because the school hasn’t arranged transportation, says it’s been more than difficult the last few years. But it’s also her daughter that keeps her going.
“I’ve thought about a lot of things, as far as lettin’ go of life,” she says. “The only thing that keeps me up is my daughter. And, life goes on, you know? I’m only 22 — and I just turned 22 — so, I just keep tellin’ myself to keep my mind focused, that life gets better.”
Once she gets another job, Velez plans to move to the South Side where there’s “not so much commotion.” But that isn’t where her aspirations stop.
“I want to go to school to be an architect. ‘Cause pretty soon, once I get a nice job and save up enough, I wanna own my own little piece of land and build my own house, from the bottom to the top.”
Right now, she’s just focused on getting her GED and going to college. First, she plans to become an electrician. That way, “when I do own my own land and I want to build my house, I can do everything, hook everything up on my own.”
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