Gaby Rodriguez is no ordinary 17 year old. For her senior year project, she wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.
The Washington State High School student decided to focus her project on the treatment of pregnant teens.
Gaby’s mother had become pregnant herself at 14, and Gaby’s sisters also became mothers when they were in their teens. Gaby wanted to learn more about how pregnant teens are treated by society, so she decided to get creative.
Realising it wasn’t worth having a baby just to get a decent grade in a project, Gaby settled on a fake pregnancy to help her investigate the stigma attached to teen mothers.
The only people who knew about the project were Gaby’s boyfriend, mother and high school principal.
Even her friends and sisters weren’t allowed to know the truth.
Gaby wore a fake baby bump that grew bigger towards the end of her ‘pregnancy’. She kept detailed notes of her experiences, jotting down things that were said to her, and by whom. Friendships suffered, and Gaby had to endure an endless stream of rumours, but she didn’t give up on her experiment.
Gaby found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that teen mothers are the victims of stigma, gossip and even nasty comments. Once people knew (or at least believed) she was pregnant, Gaby was told that she had ruined her future and would never go to college. She also found out that everyone had known this was going to happen all along.
Her years of hard work as a top student crumbled to nothing once the pregnancy news was out there, with people seeing her as little more than another statistic. Gaby, who one day hopes to be a social worker, hoped that her experience would allow her an insight into how to help teen mothers.
The inspiring 17 year old told Publisher’s Weekly: “Teen pregnancy is a big problem, and not only in my community. At a time in their lives when teens are becoming sexually active, they need to realize how the decisions they make now will ultimately affect their lives. And those teens who do become pregnant need to know that it’s not the end of the road. They can find support for themselves and their child, and can move forward.”
At the end of the project, a school assembly was held so that Gaby could tell everyone the truth about her pregnancy.
After months of isolation from her classmates, it must have been a relief for Gaby to come clean about her project. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the story received a lot of press attention and Gaby had soon landed herself a book deal. With the help of a ghostwriter, Gaby’s story would reach even more people. You can buy her book, The Pregnancy Project, which is an Amazon #1 Best Seller in the teen pregnancy category, here.
Recommended Reading: Want to read about another inspiring young woman? Check out BellyBelly’s article Inspiring Mama Finishes Her Psychology Exam During Labour.