NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- A 17-year-old single mother and class valedictorian is being awarded a prestigious college scholarship to Wilson College in Pennsylvania.
The Hill House High School student said the last year hasn't been easy, but one simple belief helped her through the hard times.
It was the giggles and the gossip through the halls of Hill House High School in New Haven that persuaded 17-year-old Shaylah McQueen to be the young woman she's always wanted to be.
McQueen is the teen mother or a little boy, and a future English teacher.
"To this day my own dad disowns me, but I still love him dearly. It doesn't matter," said McQueen, Hill House High Valedictorian.
Her unplanned pregnancy during her junior year of high school was the cause of stress and self doubt, but she never lost sight of her goal to get more than just good grades.
McQueen has been awarded a full tuition for undergraduate and graduate work as a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship . She is one of 1,000 students selected in the country.
McQueen is off to Wilson College in Pennsylvania this fall, with her son.
"I'm gonna woman up and be mature and responsible for my child and myself," said McQueen.
Just one day of negative thoughts and voices in her head was all it took for McQueen to say, "stop, I'm in charge." She said too many students give others way too much power.
"If you don't love yourself, you're going to be dictated by what people are saying," said McQueen.
That's one of the main reasons McQueen wants to be a high school teacher.
"I love to enrich, and I love to empower the youth and everyone else around me," said McQueen.
She feels that a lot of teachers today are focusing too much on the students who are struggling,and that makes them feel worse.
"I'm not looking at oh you're this kid or that kid. You're human and have issues just as much as I do, you go through things just as much as I do," said McQueen.
McQueen said you have to love yourself when there's ups and downs, and never give up. In the future she hopes to be a teacher that inspires all students.
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