This blog is written by Daisy Ortiz, in her words.
To whom it may concern:
I grew up in the small rural town of Crete, Nebraska. I came from a small household of five: two wonderful parents and two siblings. Anyone would have thought my life was simple and would have predicted a successful future.
Although my parents had no secondary education, they had raised us with their mentality to support our college education. They always told us, “Any career you want, and however it is we can, we will support you.”
It came as a shock to everyone around me when we found out I was pregnant at 16*. For once in my life, I had no idea what came ahead of me. I doubted my potential. I was so young, it made me feel like my life was over. I thought I would end up being a single mom, without a career, and struggling to make ends meet. My parents didn’t take it well; they were kind but noticeably disappointed by my choices.
Miraculously, I found the right resources, and with my parents’ and husband’s support, I continued my education. I began by refocusing on my goals and analyzing [them] as a checklist. From there, I completely changed my mentality. I no longer was thinking “if”; it was “when.”
I started by finishing high school while telling myself, “When I finish high school, I want to go to college. When I’m in college, I will earn my degree.”
I took my life step-by-step and prioritized my goals. I worked hard, taking more than [the] advised credit hours per semester to finish promptly. Thankfully, everything turned out well. I quickly graduated from high school one semester early in December 2014.
I got everything ready and applied to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and got accepted to start in August 2015. Due to the overwhelming number of classes and evening classes that I took, I also graduated from UNL in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, [then] I applied to wonderful program called Sixpence, the program that one day [would] help me allocate resources and pursue a degree, that motivated me to continue my education.
I say this because not only did Sixpence connect me with childcare; the program also placed a girl named Nancy as my home visitor. She, too, had been a teen mom and at the young age of 23, was earning her college degree, was getting divorced, and was working two jobs.
This made me think to myself, “If she can do it, with all those barriers and at her age…why wouldn’t I?” I had my husband’s economic support, I had [child]care, plus I had my parents’ unconditional support. From this point on, I was determined to continue studying and achieve all my life goals.
While attending UNL, I not only earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology; I also planned ahead and decided to complete all the prerequisites to apply to the Registered Nurse Program. Instead of taking random electives, I took every single one of the classes that I needed to be ready to just apply to the program. It was more work because the nursing classes had near nothing to do with the psychology ones, but I knew this would save me time and open the doors in the years to come.
I began work at Sixpence and enjoyed every moment here; I saw myself in every teen mom and in every struggling mother. As I started becoming comfortable with the job, I realized I had been motivating others to reach their full potential, yet here I was, discontinuing my studies and putting to a halt my nursing dream job.
From there, I finally decided to apply to the Nursing Program. I soon got accepted and had to leave my Sixpence position due to school and employment hours overlapping, however, it felt like the right thing to do. I wanted to demonstrate to myself and others that goals are attainable, but sacrifices are necessary.
Fast-forward 18 months: I became a Registered Nurse in September 2020 and have added goals to my checklist. I have learned not to doubt myself; I can obtain what I set my mind out to and my parents’ teachings were not in vain. I hope to pass that belief on to my daughter.
How Did We Begin Singing the Song of Sixpence?
Sixpence is one of Nebraska Children’s early childhood initiatives. Like most ambitious endeavors, Sixpence didn’t happen overnight, but instead can be traced back to 2006 when state and local public-private entities partnered. The mission was to provide young children with a smooth start and a bright future.
Like much of our work, Sixpence supports families early on to prevent future difficulties. The program serves our state’s most vulnerable infants and toddlers throughout a crucial time. The timing is intentional. Children develop some of their most important neural and personal connections during the ages of 0-3.
The program supports not only children, however, but also their parents, as their child’s first and most important teacher. Through a competitive process, a governor-appointed Board of Trustees reviews applications then selects the recipients. Nebraska Children oversees the grant process and overall quality of early childhood programs.
- Her high school counselor referred her to the Sixpence program, as this young woman was a good fit.