While some 21-year-old students are out hitting the town, Genesis Escamilla is home hitting the books. She is a full-time college student, a full-time employee and a full-time single mom.
“I am full-time everything,” says Genesis laughing. “I just take flex term classes so it isn’t an overload all at once.”
Why all the hard work? One goal: Genesis dreams of becoming a trauma surgeon – a road that requires significant time in the classroom. After completing her undergraduate degree, Genesis’ to-do list will include four years of medical school followed by several years of general surgery training and, finally, specific training to handle the most stressful emergency situations.
“I have always been really quick on my feet so the adrenaline rush is what draws me to the career,” says Genesis excitedly. “Ever since I was little I wanted to be a doctor and save people. As I grew older I fell in love with the field in the ER.”
Expecting the unexpected
Genesis was 100% committed to her career goals until she had a major wake-up call in early 2016. She received news she was pregnant and her baby would be due in August, right as fall classes would begin.
“Being pregnant and alone was not in my plan,” recalls Genesis, who was shocked to find out she was expecting. “I love my child more than life itself, but it was difficult and discouraging [news]. There are people who don’t work or have babies who are barely making it in the road to the medical field.”
Genesis called on family and friends to try and find direction and confidence. She leaned closely on girlfriends she knew through her church. They made Genesis’ feel loved. Her parents told her to stay in school.
“At times my mom encouraged me with tough love,” explains Genesis. “She told me that now that I am a mother and I have to focus on staying healthy and the needs of my child. That was really hard to hear. I was terrified of becoming a mom but my mom made me see the worth in it.”
During her pregnancy, Genesis was feeling very excited to meet her son, Bentley. She was as busy with schoolwork as she was shopping for onesies. And then, suddenly, school stopped. Shopping stopped. Time stopped.
“I was six months [pregnant] and I had organ failure,” says Genesis, who was immediately hospitalized. “My mom slept on the [hospital] couch for months to make sure I was never alone. My dad was there with me when Bentley was born. I was extremely ill during my C section and my dad never left my side. He was so excited to see his grandson, but he also knew that his little girl needed him so much that day.”
Today Genesis and eight-month-year-old son Bentley are doing well. Genesis continues to find support, courage and hope from her family. And she is back in school, plugging away at her studies. Genesis is even is dating again, something she thought might never happen. She describes her boyfriend as someone who has brought faith back into her life and reminds her that there are good men out there. Of course there’s also her main squeeze, baby Bentley, who is obsessed with his mom and Snapchat. This month the pair will celebrate their first Mother’s Day together — a holiday which Genesis says she has a new appreciation for.
“My mom and I have gotten a lot closer since I had Bentley,” explains Genesis. “I am able to understand now why she is very protective. The love I feel for him is out of this world. Sometimes it’s so much love it’s overwhelming, fearful and amazing that I can even love this much.”
I am enough.
While motherhood is a blessing to Genesis, it is also extremely time consuming. Especially as a full-time Richland College student! Yet Genesis remains dedicated to all of her passions. She wants to be a positive role model for others, especially her son and her younger brother.
“Genesis has inspired me as an overall person, student and mom,” says best friend Rikki McPhail. “She has overcome so much and has shined the entire way through. From her I’ve learned to never give up, even if the odds aren’t always in your favor. I love her deeply and am so proud to call her my best friend.”
Despite her natural grit and encouraging friends, there are days when Genesis does not feel adequate. She compares herself to other students pursuing work in the medical field. Her grades are strong, but her confidence dwindles. She has to remind herself of her own advice:
“Don’t give up,” Genesis says, as if she is talking to other students who are also moms and dads. “I know it’s hard and that you want to quit and you feel like a terrible parent because you have to not only focus on school and work but also on your children. But this is a sacrifice that we make for them. They depend on us and if we can’t show them that we are willing to fight that hard who else will?”
Blood, guts, tears, chemistry class – Genesis has already overcome a lot since entering motherhood. And these experiences have changed her perception of school. She realizes that it is not a race to the finish line (graduation), but a slow and steady jog. Time management and a purpose keep her from feeling overwhelmed. Also, free babysitting from mom.
“They say hard work pays off, and for a trauma surgeon that can amount to $300K a year,” says Genesis. “I am keeping my eye on the prize – for both Bentley and me. Our future depends on the daily choices I make now.”
Genesis Escamilla plans to transfer from Richland College to UTA next spring. In the meantime she will continue to take classes at community college and serve as a customer care rep at Fossil.