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Teen mom (and her daughter) going to Harvard

By Pablo J. Sáinz
La Prensa San Diego

SAN YSIDRO — Thanks to a strong support network that included her parents and teachers, Julissa Muñiz never thought of dropping out of high school when she became pregnant at the age of 16.

“I was fortunate enough that within my immediate group of educators and family, not once was I cast off as another ‘Latina teen mother drop-out,’” Muñiz said. “All the contrary, I received a lot of support from the high school staff and teachers at San Ysidro High School, that continued to encourage me in spite of the challenges I then faced as a teen mother.”

And all that support has paid off: Muñiz graduated from San Ysidro High, moved on to UC Berkeley where she received her bachelor’s degree, and now this fall she will enroll in the prestigious master of education at Harvard University.

Her main inspiration: Her eight-year-old daughter, Amaris Gonzalez.

“My decision to apply and attend Harvard is rooted in my desire to create a world of opportunities for both her and I,” Muñiz said. “Being from a small town like San Ysidro, where opportunities are limited, I want to expose her to a world of new possibilities, a world where she molds her reality with her decisions and tenacity. I want her to learn from my lived experiences and the challenges I faced as a teen mother, but also to learn the importance of perseverance, education, and will.”

Muñiz’ plan is to…

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