Troy Graduate Delivers For Her Daughter
CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Wednesday, January 10, 2001
At first glance, Itasha Hilton appeared on the road
to success in 1997. Just a year from graduating at Troy High School, she
had a solid family life, living with both parents and a brother and sister,
was involved in church activities, and planned to attend college.
Then the high school senior got pregnant.
"It was a shock in the beginning," said Hilton,
now 20. "It kind of knocked me over the head."
How many times have you heard this story? Girl
gets pregnant, drops out of school to have a baby, goes on public assistance
and never reaches her potential.
Hilton tells a different tale.
"I knew I couldn't play around anymore," the
single mother said. "I had to straighten up if I was going to take care
of another human being."
Hilton didn't miss a beat at Troy High, attending
classes as her belly swelled – "I wanted to graduate with my friends."
– and earning her diploma on time. She gave birth in the summer of 1998,
to a daughter, Qiessence, and was anxious to enroll in college.
"It was always embedded in me to go to college,"
Hilton said. "I wanted to go right away, but my mom encouraged me to take
some time to get used to the motherhood thing."
Hilton sat out one semester, then signed up
at Hudson Valley Community College for the spring 1999 semester. She hit
her stride immediately, making the Dean's List on her first attempt.
"I said, ‘Wow, that was simple," Hilton said.
"You just have to push yourself."
The lifelong Troy resident made the Dean's
List every ensuing semester and will receive a Criminal Justice degree
in May. Hilton said she stumbled upon Criminal Justice and was hooked.
"I'm really interested in forensics," Hilton
said. "I probably would have followed my family into the business and administration
field, but I don't want to be stuck behind a desk writing memos. When I
took a forensics class, when I experienced it, it was something I could
see myself doing. Plus, nobody else I know has done anything in the criminal
justice field, so I figured, why don't I?"
Hilton now plans to study forensics at UAlbany.
"I'm going to keep going while I can, while I have
the support," she said. "It's been extremely hard. It's hard enough to
take care of yourself, let alone take care of a daughter and pay your bills.
It's a lot. And being young, you want nice things. But I'll wait. When
I get my degree, hopefully everything will come back to me. You just have
to be patient."
Hilton, who credits her family for much of her success
– they've been extremely supportive throughout her pregnancy and the years
that followed, lending a helping hand whenever needed – says Hudson Valley
was the right choice for somebody in her shoes.
"Hudson Valley Community College was a great, great
stepping stone for me," Hilton said. "It helped me evolve into a person
who looks at things in a different perspective.
"Hudson Valley taught me a lot. I'm thankful for
everybody there that helped me. Everybody I dealt with wanted to see me
succeed. It's nice to know that they're looking out for you."
Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy,
offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions;
Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and
Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University
of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000
students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives
and worker retraining.