Jillaine Ridad says her academic determination kicked in sometime between the contractions while taking an online class while in labor. She was a single mother at 18 years old.
She had dropped out of high school in San Francisco but managed to get back on track.
“The grades came out three weeks after she was born and I had a 4.0,” she said. “I can do this.”
Then three years ago she got a scholarship to UC Irvine and began her parental balancing act — school, work and Hannah. She has been at her mother’s side for all of her classes, a fixture in both psychology and education.
Ridad said she couldn’t afford child care and her professors made sure her daughter would never be excluded.
“I knew in my heart right thing to do,” she said. “God had a plan for Hannah and for me and we just knew we could live in whatever that plan was and it’s just been amazing.”
Hannah’s middle name is Faith. Ridad hopes to use her degree in psychology to become a high school counselor.
Now one of them is headed to get her master’s degree and the other to kindergarten.