MEMPHIS, TN (FOX) - Sixteen years after giving birth to her son, at age 15, Summer Owens tells her story of how she made it through life as a teenage mother in a new book.
"I love my child, and I am very thankful for him, but I would have much rather had him when I was an adult, married," Owens said about her son, which to her is the greatest gift of her life.
Owens was only a child herself when she had him.
"When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked, I was sorta of the good girl ya know, and some things happened," she said.
She was at her aunt's house for her 15th birthday when a cousin's friend, a man she had recently met but did not really know, raped her in a dark bedroom.
She kept it a secret for as long as she could.
"I did have dreams and high expectations of myself, so I was really disappointed in myself, I was embarrassed walking around pregnant."
Depressed and scared, her stomach began to swell and the questions started.
The high school sophomore stayed in school despite the stigma.
She was elected vice president of her class at Jackson Central Mary High School and only sat out six weeks after giving birth before going right back to class.
"After I had him I realized I had to go on with my life, I had to do something," Owens said.
She graduated No. 8 in her class with honors and was voted most likely to succeed, before leaving home to attend the University of Memphis.
She said she used her resources and pushed herself - which is the message in her book, Life After Birth.
"Girls will read it and they will change some of the things that they are doing, about some of the ways that they think," she said.
She described the book as an acknowledgement of facts, evidence that teen pregnancy doesn't mean a death sentence for a young woman's dreams.
Owens doesn't encourage teen pregnancy, but encourages teens who become pregnant to keep moving.
"In my book I use the word 'move' a lot, keep moving so that is one key message that I share with them, and to dream because unfortunately a lot of girls, teen mothers, ether didn't have dreams in the first place or once they become teen mothers give up on their dreams."
Now Owens has two degrees and works in the marketing department for FedEx.
When she is not working or raising her almost 16-year-old son Jaylyn, she volunteers at the adolescent mentoring program through Memphis City Schools.
She believes that self-esteem is at the core of the problem for young girls today and that parents should talk to their children about sex.
Conversations should be candid and parents must practice what they preach. However, Owens said that peer pressure can sometimes get the best of people.
"My faith does teach abstinence and that's what you are supposed to do, but we do live in a world like, you just said, that girls and boys are having sex and they need to be educated, so they need to know if this is the choice that you make, these are the consequences," she said.
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