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Cherise's Story

I was born and raised in Jamaica West Indies.  In 1984 when my mother moved to the United States we stayed with family.  For six years my brother and I waited to be reunited with our mother and finally on April 6th 1990 we arrived in the United States to be with her.  My mother immediately moved us to Long Island and enrolled me at Elmont Memorial High school where I spent four years.  In 1994, I was accepted to Ithaca College and I was excited to be the first in my family to attend college.

At the same time tragedy struck, my father was shot and killed in Jamaica.  I was devastated and this experience left me feeling empty and lonely.  After attending my dad’s funeral I went to orientation at Ithaca College.


When I returned home my mother informed me that she would not pay for me to attend Ithaca.  I immediately enrolled in Queensboro Community College, where I spent a year.  I then transferred to Hofstra University where I attended as a part time student because my mother refused to assist me in any way.    

In January of 1996, I discovered I was pregnant and for five months my mother had no idea.  I knew that once she found out I would have to leave the house.  As I approached my 21st birthday my mother discovered that I was pregnant and told me I had to leave her home.  I then moved into a Catholic Charities group home for pregnant girls in Merrick.   I lived in this home for two months and then I moved to the Bronx to live with my boyfriend Kris and his mother.  On October 21st 1996 my son Noah Alexander Jackson was born and I was excited. We continued to live in the Bronx and in February of 1996 I returned to Hofstra University as a full time independent student. The commute from the Bronx to Hofstra by public transportation was hectic because I was leaving early in the morning and getting home very late at night.  As a result, I wasn’t spending enough time with my new baby and I was physically drained.  In April of 1998 I moved to MOMMAS House in Malverne. 

As a resident of the program I learned how to balance being a mother while pursuing my dreams.  I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in December of 1999 and got my first real job at Computer Associates in Islandia.  In July 2000, I began to realize that it was time to move on because I believed my job was a dead end and I needed to do more with my life.  I decided to move back to the Bronx with my boyfriend and his family. I changed my schedule at Computer Associates to weekends and Noah began to attend the daycare where his grandmother worked.

At this time I was feeling dissatisfied with my career and how my life was going.   Kris’s godmother encouraged me to go into education and though I was unsure I applied.

In January 2001, I interviewed and was hired as a Middle School Social Studies teacher.  I worked for five years in New York City Public Schools and in May 2003 I received my Master degree in Secondary Education from Mercy College.  Two years later, I moved back to Long Island and I got a job teaching at Westbury Middle School.  During this time I went back to Hofsra University to get a degree in Education Administration and in May 2005 I graduated.  The Education Administration degree led me to the next step in my career.   Currently, I am an Assistant Principal at a Long Island High School.  My future goal is to get my doctorate degree and to one day open my own school for at-risk children. 


Finally, MOMMAS House had a tremendous impact on my life as well as my son’s in that the program allowed me to be a better mother, and created a safe and positive environment.  Recently, I was having a conversation with my son and he asked me why we moved out of the house in Malverne.  I had to explain to him that it was a temporary group home for young women and their children. He was very surprised and I quickly realized that Noah had no idea where we lived because he felt safe and happy there.  

MOMMAS House also gave me the opportunity to meet people who were genuine in their love and care for my son and me.   Being a resident of MOMMAS House gave me lifelong friends and I will be forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to be part of an organization that is a light in the community. 


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