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NC Mom Pursues Medical Career After Unplanned Pregnancy (With Angela Sullivan)

Angela Sullivan and her family walking at UNC Chapel Hill

One of the biggest arguments used by the pro-abortion community is that having a baby would prevent a teen mom from being able to pursue education and a career. This is blatantly not true and underestimates women’s abilities, as is evidenced by this week’s guest.

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes Angela Sullivan, a North Carolina mom of four, to discuss how she has been able to pursue higher education and a medical career after an unplanned pregnancy at the age of eighteen.

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Family Policy Matters
NC Mom Pursues Medical Career After Unplanned Pregnancy (With Angela Sullivan)

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Most arguments in favor of keeping abortion legal focus on the challenges for women and paint a grim picture for mothers who face an unexpected pregnancy that will put their life on hold and eliminate options and opportunities for success. But Angela Sullivan believes this is a stunted view of reality, and she knows that firsthand. Sullivan graduated from UNC Chapel Hill this year after a longer than expected road that included more than one unplanned pregnancy. She joins us today to share her story of perseverance and hope. Angela Sullivan, welcome to Family Policy Matters.

ANGELA SULLIVAN: Thank you. Glad to be here!

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: All right. Well, take us back to high school. What were your plans and hopes for college and your future back then?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: I knew from a very early age that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, and throughout high school, I did extra things to try to make sure that I reached that goal. So I went into college at 18 years old, ready to major in biology and start all that stuff to get into medical school later, that was my main goal.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Okay, and tell us what happened with that.

ANGELA SULLIVAN: So I enrolled in school at ECU, and I was dating a guy then, named Ryan, who’s now my husband, but he moved to Greenville with me to start school, and he was working. We wanted to be close together. And I ended up getting pregnant two weeks into my first semester. So I finished out that semester and then moved back home after that.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Walk us through what happened. How did that end up being a success story for you?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: So I was very scared at that moment to just, you know, leave my whole dream behind, but it wasn’t hard to come to terms with being a mom. I mean, I knew I wanted that at some point in my life, so that wasn’t hard to come to terms with. I just figured that, as a mom, you can’t continue education. It’s just too difficult. And I was going to have to just embrace the role of stay at home mom and motherhood, and that was going to be my new career goal. And my husband was great and supportive, so he ended up just finding jobs and making sure we were supported. So it was good, and we did fine.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Okay, so what made you want to go back to school and continue your education?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: A lot of things. I ended up enrolling in a massage therapy program because it’s a very medical field. It doesn’t seem like that, but you do learn a lot about the human body and muscles and bones and things like that. And it caught my eye, and I was like, you know, I really want to do something, and it’s only a nine-month program. It’s very part time, I can do it. So, after doing that, I worked as a massage therapist at a chiropractic clinic for a few years, and interacting with patients and helping them through various pains and aches and things of that nature really inspired my love of medicine, and the job that I was doing as a massage therapist wasn’t enough for me. I really wanted to be in real, real hands-on medicine.

And then my brother-in-law, while we were on a vacation, ended up shattering his arm in a freak accident, and because I had knowledge of how to kind of support his injury, I went with them to the hospital. And the whole process of talking to the doctors and they could see that I was interested, they just kind of nurtured my love, and, I mean, pretty much convinced me that I should go back and should do something. And I was like, Yeah, that’s a really good idea. I think I will.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: How did your husband feel about this when you started to discuss it?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: He has always been 100% supportive. We met when I was 17, and he knew what my dreams and my goals and everything that I wanted in a career, and he knows how much I love the field. So when I told him, I was like, you know, I think I’m gonna enroll back in school. And he was like, that’s a really great idea. I think you should do it. Mainly also because, as parents with no college education between us, it’s really hard to raise a family with, you know, not a lot of income opportunities. So he was excited that I wanted to do something like that.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: All right, so walk us through what happened next.

ANGELA SULLIVAN: Right after we got home from the vacation, I enrolled in school at the Technical Community College, and I started work on my associate’s degree. Which the beautiful thing about community college is it’s affordable. You can take all your classes online and space them out however you want. And so I did that. I did all online class. And also, blessedly, being a low income mother, the government paid for my entire education, no loans. So I had pretty much a smooth ride. I just had to, you know, excel at my classes, and that whole associate’s degree process took two and a half years with no breaks, and I did all of it online and finished that in 2022.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Do you have your goal clearly in your site at this point?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: After I’ve graduated from UNC, that was for my bachelor’s degree, I wanted originally to go to the UNC PA school, and I ended up getting pregnant with my fourth right before I was supposed to go and start my bachelor’s degree. So I was a little bummed then that I’d have to put off my education again, but I kind of thought about it and just decided that I was just going to try. And he was going to be born the day after class started, and I would just, you know, take the week off, tell my professors, and then just bring him to school with me when I was able to leave the hospital.

And he ended up coming two weeks early, which was great. I got two weeks at home, and then I started class when he was two weeks old, and I did bring him with me. You know, I had the idea in my head that if it didn’t work out, there was the deadline, I could drop the classes, no harm done, but I really wanted to try, and we did it. We ended up making that semester awesome. I aced all my classes, and everybody was so great. And so now that I finished that bachelor’s degree, I’ve already applied for PA school, and that will be the next step. All right, so PA meaning physician’s assistant, correct? Yes, that is correct.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Congratulations. That’s a great goal. Let’s back up just a little because I think North Carolina offers some great opportunities for people that are going from a community college into the university system. Could you talk about that? Because all your credits transferred, didn’t they?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: Yes. So especially Durham Technical Community College, which is close to UNC and Duke, they offer a program where, if you get your associate’s degree, you pretty much have an absolute, like you’re going to get in, they’re going to allow you in to the school. You have to complete an Associate’s degree. And when you go to the four year university, you transfer over all of your credits, plus an additional 10 hours that makes up for the first two years. So you enter as a junior at that point.


It sounds like they’re trying to make that journey a little easier, but how about for expectant or new moms? How supportive did you find the colleges and community colleges to that?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: The community college was easier because it was online, so I didn’t actually have to do much. I did end up having to go pretty fully pregnant with my third to some exams. But, I mean, it was very smooth sailing. For UNC, it was a little bit different, because I was in class with everyone who was 18-19, years old, and they had never, maybe never seen a baby before, I don’t know. And they were a little bit, you know, shocked. But the professors, all of my professors, most of them, were parents themselves, and they really understood my situation. They were extremely supportive and helpful. I will say that the facilities are not always easy. There’s a lot of stairs, so if you have a stroller, you gotta find extra little backdoor exits and things like that, and you’re sitting at the back of all your classes. But for the most part, the love and support I felt from my teachers and professors was pretty great and amazing.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Yeah, so you literally, when you said you took your baby to class with you, you literally took your baby into the classroom.

ANGELA SULLIVAN: I did. I was a little scared that I wasn’t going to my professors would be like, No, can’t be here. You got to leave. But, so I kind of emailed them ahead of time, and I was like, just so you know, I’m bringing my baby. It’s not a question. I’m just going to let you know. And when I got there, the feedback was so great. I mean, some of them announced me to class and said how proud of me they were. Some of them carried my baby around class when I had to do quizzes or tests. I mean, they were just awesome.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Good for you. Yeah. So, you also homeschool the kids that you have, right? Are you a supermom? Literally, how?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: I don’t even know how. It really just works. I mean, I had, I tried public school for a little while with my oldest, who is now 10, and he did kindergarten, but then COVID hit, and so we had to take them out anyway, and it just wasn’t conducive. We tried to send them back again, my daughter in kindergarten, my son in second grade, and just everything with the fear of COVID and all this stuff, it just they weren’t having a good time, and neither was I. And so I pulled them out pretty soon in and I’ve homeschooled them since. It’s pretty easy, honestly, because if you’re at home, the school work that they do takes an hour, maybe two, and we do it in the morning, and then after lunch, I have time to do my stuff, and I only went to campus Tuesdays and Thursdays, and so I was able to drop off the kids at my mom’s on Tuesday. And she homeschooled me so she’s familiar, and I leave them a little list of what to get done, and she just tells them to do it. And then on Thursday, they have a homeschool co-op at our church, and they go there all day, and the rest of the days, it just works out.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: You have a very interesting and different perspective than most people. When you hear women saying that they have to get an abortion because their life would be ruined if they decided to to keep the baby, I’m assuming that you have a slightly different take on that.

ANGELA SULLIVAN: I do, definitely. I remember at 18 years old finding out I was pregnant and just thinking my life is over like this has just ruined everything. I’m not going to consider an abortion because I don’t believe in it, but everything’s different, and it was different. Everything is different, but I will not say that everything was ruined. My life went in a completely different direction, but I ended up getting married young, and that’s been a blessing. My husband and I have been together for 10 years now, married for 10 years, and I have four amazing children. And once you become a mom, from the minute that you have a baby in your belly, your whole world changes. I mean, your brain changes, your life changes. And it’s, it’s actually wonderful. I mean, my kids have taught me so much, and honestly, if I didn’t have them, I might not be so driven to finish all of this and do all of these things. So I would say that that 18 year old pregnancy when I was unmarried in school was actually one of the best things to happen.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Wow. So what next for you then?

ANGELA SULLIVAN: Well, I have applied for my PA school position, and if I get into that, I’ll start in January. I found a really great program that will allow me to do my first year of classes online. And the second year will be the didactic year when you’re in your clinicals in the hospitals, they allow you to contract with local hospitals, so I do not have to relocate. I don’t have to be at a building nine to five Monday through Friday, and I will still be able to do my mom stuff and take care of my kids, which is just a blessing, and I feel like roads have just really opened for me, so I really hope I get in.

TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Yeah, well, I hope you do too. Angela Sullivan, thank you so much. What an inspiring and refreshing story, and we just can take a lot of hope and encouragement from from that story. So thank you so much. Angela Sullivan, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.


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