While the pregnancy rates amongst teenagers have lessened dramatically, there’s still some work to do. Studies show that there are twice as many black and Latina teenage mothers than their white counterparts and of those black and Latina teen moms, less than 2% of them graduate college by the time they’re 30.
However, there are many young black and Latina mothers who beat these odds and Altrichia Lekay is one of them. Lekay got pregnant at the age of 17 and refused to be another statistic by turning her decision into motivation to succeed.
Lekay's pregnancy occurred a month prior to graduating high school and she continued into Florida State University, graduated and entered a master’s program for Florida A&M University. She completed her master’s degree while working two jobs and raising her son. Can someone say #blackexcellence a little louder for the people in the back?
Lekay's high school sweetheart and the father of her son also went on to do great things with a football scholarship to a California school and soon a transfer to the University of Arizona. The two are currently married and happily raising their son together.
As if Lekay could not do any more amazing things, she’s also running her own fashion label, Allusions by A.Lekay Swimwear, which features luxury swimwear and was inspired by her own post-baby body insecurities. The label began once she made herself a swimsuit and posted a photo online of high-waisted swimsuit bottoms that cover her abdomen. Inquiries started pouring in about her design and all of this kick-started her business. Since the launch of her brand in 2014, her designs have appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Essence, Marie Claire and the cover of Cosmopolitan on none other than the beautiful Nicki Minaj.
But wait, there’s more! Lekay began a mentor ship program to empower and support other teenage mothers like herself. The program has successfully partnered with local teen parent programs to host annual fundraisers which not only push young mothers to further their education but also give them the resources they need to support current pregnancies and prevent additional ones. An academic scholarship award is also given a deserving young mother in attendance.
Earlier this year, her hometown of Lakeland, Florida, Mayor Bill Mutz proclaimed Feb. 9, 2018, as "Sweetheart Seminar – Altrichia Cook Day" and handed her a key to the city. Talk about #girlboss!
Photo: Black Enterprise
"As a new mom, college freshmen at Florida State University, pledging AKA, being in student government, working two jobs, all the way to obtaining my masters from Florida A&M University, all while simultaneously raising my son, it wasn’t a matter of how can I do it, it was always, watch me. Although being a teen mom was not planned, it ultimately “molded me into who I am today: a 30-year old entrepreneur, influencer and mentor," she told Black Enterprise.