Alumna Profile: Olivia Garcia
When Olivia was a 14-year-old freshman in high school, she started to feel sick. She thought she had the flu, and her mother sent her to the doctor. Olivia didn’t have the flu; she was pregnant. In 1995, at 15…
When Olivia was a 14-year-old freshman in high school, she started to feel sick. She thought she had the flu, and her mother sent her to the doctor. Olivia didn’t have the flu; she was pregnant. In 1995, at 15 years old, she gave birth to her son Xavier.
Life before Olivia got pregnant already wasn’t easy. She was raised in the projects and had gang affiliations. She smoked marijuana and didn’t go to school regularly. Her mother was an alcoholic. When Olivia found out she was pregnant, most of her family told her that her life was over, that she wasn’t going to finish her education or do anything with her life. Only her mother and grandmother continued to support her. Olivia’s mother told her to break up with the father of her child and not tell him that she was pregnant. This crushed Olivia. She was devastated and went through a period of depression. She began to work at Goodwill so she could get a crib, clothes, and other things to prepare for her son’s arrival into this world. “I wanted to prove everybody wrong who said I would never amount to anything,” says Olivia. “I knew I wanted to be a better parent than my mom was to me.”
Olivia didn’t find much support at her high school. She was told she couldn’t continue to attend as a pregnant teen. Luckily her counselor referred her to Florence Crittenton Services. Olivia attended Florence Crittenton Services, which was called T-PEN at the time, from 1995 to 1999. She graduated with the class of 1999. Being a teen mom was hard. Olivia went to school, worked, and tried to enjoy weekends with Xavier. She worked various jobs from McDonald’s to office jobs to clerical work. She not only had a little one to think about, she also was still dealing with being a teenager. She became very cautious when it came to dating, because she didn’t want to get pregnant again.
Florence Crittenton Services helped Olivia ease some of the hardship of being a young mother. The teachers were always supportive and encouraging. “They didn’t treat us like we failed,” remembers Olivia. “They were always positive, even when we did make mistakes.” Olivia and the other teen mothers visited colleges. The teachers ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up. They encouraged them to think bigger and to still dream.
Olivia graduated from Westwood College in 2005 with her Associates Degree in Medical Assisting, and currently works at Rose Medical Center. She has four children, and has been a single mother for 12 years. Her son Xavier works for Junk King. He and Olivia are working to save money so they can buy a house together or move to a new city. Olivia is still friends with some of the women who attended Florence Crittenton Services with her, and their children are also friends. “I truly believe that if I wouldn’t have gone to Florence Crittenton Services, I would have never finished high school,” says Olivia. “I wouldn’t be where I am today.”