Published in partnership with the Black Women’s Media Collective.
Women Making Moves! is a monthly series on Nicole Clark’s blog that highlights women and girls of color making a name for themselves (and impacting others) in the areas of sexual/reproductive health, overall health and wellness, feminism, activism, entrepreneurship, the arts and sciences, and all-around pro-woman goodness.
Meet Gloria Malone. Gloria is the creator of Teen Mom NYC, a blog where she gives a personal account of her life as a former teen mom. Now a college student living in New York City with her 6-year-old daughter, Gloria provides helpful and accurate information for other teen moms while striving to connect them with local resources that they may not be aware of.
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Read more about Gloria, her life as a teen mom, how she takes care of herself and her daughter, and what advice does she gives to teen moms.
What was a defining moment that propelled you onto the career/educational path you’re on now?
It has been a roller coaster of self tests, endless hours of Google searches and momentarily wanting to be a CPA to get me back to what I have always been interested in, helping people and politics. When I found Baruch’s School of Public Affairs I was in love.
Your blog Teen Mom NYC, is an online source for young mothers who need accurate information and advice that can help them create the lives they want for themselves and for their families. Teen Mom NYC contains a wide range of helpful advice from fitting in exercise in a busy schedule to tips on how to prepare for a job interview. Can you share your inspiration for creating your blog for teen moms?
After having my daughter at 15 I really wanted to help other teen and young moms. However, that wasn’t my intention when I started my blog. My blog was a way to tell my friends and family in Florida about my life in NYC. It was on vacation after jumping into the cold waters of Lake Michigan that I realized my blog was the outlet to help other teen and young moms.
You decided to move to New York City to pursue a degree in Public Affairs after living in Florida. Why did you decide to leave Florida and your job at a law firm to study in New York City?
I actually moved from NYC to Florida and hated every moment of living in Florida. Then after earning my associates degree and my life falling apart I decided to move back to the city that still had my heart.
I recently read your blog post “Your Child’s Sex Life Is Your Business”, where you shared, “To me, teen parents have a strange advantage over other parents. We are in the position of being our parent’s young child, young adults, and parents all at once. While all these roles are difficult to handle and can lead to an overwhelming amount of stress, once a person has the ability to handle them better she will learn that each offers wonderful insights into parenting. Being someone’s young child with a child and transitioning into adulthood, we have the ability to indentify the things we wished our parents did more; more talking, more family dinners and more family time are just a few to name. As a parent, we can see how our parents may have felt uncomfortable approaching us or speaking to us about certain things. Lets face it, as teens we behaved as if we didn’t want our parents to speak, interact or acknowledge us. However, that’s exactly what we wanted.” Have you been able to speak to other teen parents and their parents on these advantages in the hopes of opening the conversation on sex with young people and families? Also, have you received any resistance from other parents?
It’s funny some people think I’m crazy for talking about sex to Leilani; however, the lack of conversation about sex with my parents is-along with other reasons- why I had a daughter at 15. I don’t want the same for my child so I must do what my parents didn’t do.
I have been able to speak to other young moms and more than not they agree that talking to their children about sex while they are young is imperative. Some realized their extra parenting potential after reading the post too.
Gloria and her daughter, Leilani.
Your daughter, Leilani, is now 6 years old. How has your experiences been in raising Leilani now that you’re living in New York? What types of support (family, social, educational, etc.) do you receive? Also, can you give any advice for young mothers who want to make the leap in pursuing higher education and live their dreams while raising a child?
Although I have my blog and a strong virtual community of support, I still desperately want a group of young women and moms in NYC that are making moves for themselves and their children. I also had to learn how to ask for help and communicate more effectively. Where as in Florida, I had family to help me. The only family I have here is my father. I had to learn how to allow people to help me.
As selfish as it may sound: Live life on your terms and put yourself first! I lived for everyone else but myself for a long time. I was the person I felt I should have been instead of the person I am. After saying screw everything, moving to NYC, shaving my head, and having a lot of time for self-introspection I found that my problem was me not being me.
It’s Career Day at a nearby school, and you’ve been invited to speak to a classroom of 13-year-old girls. How would you describe your life and career to them in a way that excites them and makes them want to learn more?
With out being an avid traveler, yet, I have met people from different parts of the world, people who have made huge changes in their communities and people that inspire me in more ways than ever. There is no greater and more wonderful feeling in the world than helping a young woman realize her potential and show her how she can use it. Knowing that I help young women and inspire them to inspire themselves is a beautiful thing to be a part of. After graduating and helping my local communities, I plan on taking my humanitarian efforts abroad. You don’t need to be money rich to help the world. All you need is an open and rich heart.
How have you been able to live life on your own terms?
Finally, yes. It took a while. Having a child young and just accepting the societal roles you believe you have to fill can stifle one’s individualism. I realized that I was only 20 and that I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet, how the hell could I let others defy my life for me so early?
Given your busy schedule, how do you prioritize self-care (the practice of taking care of your physical/mental health to preventing burn-out) into your life?
This one is super hard for me to answer. While I have gotten better at managing my self and emotional health, I’m not where I would like to be personally. To be 100% honest, I had an anxiety attack at school just last week. It’s tough, I’m now going to lie, but it is possible. Its about taking back your life. This semester I decided I wasn’t going to work an extra day, and I changed my school schedule so I could fit in ‘me time’ three out of the seven days of the week. I realized no one is going to give me my time back so I have to take it now.
If you were not in the career path you’re currently in, what would you be doing?
The dreamer in me says I would be a dancer. I used to dance, sing and was involved in drama classes when I was younger. If not a dancer I would be working in the arts one way or another.
Think back 10 years ago. What advice would you give your younger self about love, career, and/or following your passion?
What you think is love isn’t love. It’s a void inside of you that can’t be fixed by giving someone the little bit of what you have. Stay stubborn and do what you want and not what you think people want you to do. Most importantly, when you don’t know the person in the mirror, you need to remove distractions and get to know them. Only by knowing yourself will you be able to find your passion, which is what you career should be.