Teen Mom, Now 28 Years Old, Earns Ph.D.

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Dr. Brittany Chambers challenges negativity to change the world for other moms

 

This weekend was the pinnacle of Brittany Chambers’ academic career. She made history as the first in her family and first student from her high school class to graduate with a Ph.D. on May 12 as she walked across the stage to receive her degree in Community Health Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG).

At only 28 years old, Dr. Chambers surpassed many challenges to get reach this point, at the same time charting a path for others to follow behind her. She became a teen mother at the age of 16 and graduated from McClymonds High School a year early in 2006.

After that achievement, Chambers attended UC Berkeley where she received a bachelor’s degree in 2010.

She went on to earn a master’s degree in Public Health from Fresno State University before moving to Greensboro, North Carolina to complete her academic career. Her daughter was right beside her, all along the way, watching and learning her mom beat the odds to pursue what she knew was rightfully hers.

“When I became a mother, I was responsible for another person besides myself. I wanted to reach some stability before my daughter went to college,” said. Chambers

“So I was in a big rush to meet that time clock. Now, my daughter is 12 years old (and) entering the 7th grade. I can start saving for college for her.”

Although Chambers faced significant obstacles – grieving the killing of her daughter’s father while she was attending UC Berkeley – she persevered. It was her negative experiences navigating the healthcare system as a teen mom that inspired her passion for public health.

“When I was pregnant, I would go to my doctor appointments and the nurses would say ‘You’re too young to be having a baby,’” Chambers said.

“I felt like no one else should have to go through those experiences. I chose to pursue my master’s and my doctorate degree in Community Health Education to improve access and engagement in medical care for teen moms and other marginalized populations,” she said.

Chambers has interned with the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center and Planned Parenthood. She has published research on maternal and child health issues in journals such as the Journal of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and most recently was co-editor of the book, “Breastfeeding, Social Justice, and Equity.”

Before walking across the stage, Dr. Chambers has already accepted two job offers. She will be a professor in the Sociology and Sexuality Studies Department at San Francisco State University; and will enter a postdoctoral fellowship at UC San Francisco with the Preterm Birth Initiative Saving Our Ladies from early Births And Reducing Stress (SOLARS) Study.

While some may have counted her out, Chambers has not let anything stop her, and she encourages other young mothers to do the same.

“All the negative comments I received throughout my pregnancy and parenthood, I used them as fuel to prove everybody wrong,” Chambers said.

“As you strive for your goals, use both the positive and negative comments and experiences in your life to ignite a fire in you. No matter what challenges or circumstances come your way, you’re not counted out.”

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