A young woman graduating top of her class wants to shatter the stigma that teenage mothers are “lazy or irresponsible”.
Andante Singer graduated from the University of Bristol with her three-year-old son Atticus watching on.
Miss Singer became pregnant during her A-levels and completed her exams while expecting her son.
She won a place on the university’s psychology course and graduated with the best mark of her 180 peers.
The 23-year-old achieved 90% grades in some of the course’s hardest units and was given a prestigious British Psychological Society undergraduate award.
“There is a myth that teenage pregnancy happens to a specific type of person, but these things can happen to anyone,” she said.
“I’m not glorifying my situation at all because it has been really hard, but the one thing I would want other people to know is that if you do find yourself in that situation, there are options.
“For a long time, I’d try to wear clothes that made me seem older because I didn’t want to stick out. I just wish people wouldn’t assume and judge others.
“Mums in general just get so much stick, no matter what their situation.
“I’d love to reduce the stigmatisation of teen mothers by showing what I’ve accomplished; I hope that will allow others in my situation to flourish.”
Her journey from pregnant at 18 to star graduate with an “amazing” son has been far from easy.
She remembers bursting into tears and feeling “very scared” when she learned she was pregnant.
“I just didn’t know what to do,” she said.
“I thought my mum would be annoyed but she wasn’t at all. She was just really lovely – the first thing she did was give me hug.
“It’s so important to have that support network; having a very supportive family is probably the one thing that got me through.”
Miss Singer, who lives in Portishead, Somerset, thought her plans to go to university would be in jeopardy if she had a child.
She received a bursary from the university and was able to access extra support, including reduced fees at the university nursery.
“Once I knew that support was in place, I was able to make the right choice for me,” she said.
“And I’m so glad I made the decision I did. Atticus is so great and everyone that meets him just loves him.”
Miss Singer is now a reading mentor in a school and she plans to study for a PhD in psychology and become an academic researcher.