With help from the Teen Clinic, Telicia evolved from a thirteen year old who was angry that she had to stop climbing trees because she was pregnant, into a responsible nineteen-year-old mother of two.
Telicia enjoyed being wild and crazy. She was a tomboy. She figured, "If I can't get anything else out of life, I might as well be mean." She mainly "hung" with boys, staying out till all hours of the night. They "whooped and hollered" in the woods, climbed trees, and came home muddy and stinky. They skateboarded, pulled by cars, pretending to water ski. They had "swimming parties" at pools where they were not supposed to be. For a few short months, when she was 13 and pregnant, Telicia stayed home. Once her daughter was born, she returned to her wild and crazy ways.
Then things "happened real fast." Her mother suffered a depression and Telicia often found her staring into space. They could not pay the rent and moved in with Telicia's older brother, with whom Telicia argued constantly. Telicia's grades got worse and worse and she quit high school. She grew morose and stopped caring how she looked. At 16 she was pregnant again. Telicia knew Ms. Buzi would "get on" her.
Ms. Buzi (pronounced "Boozie") is the senior social worker at the Baylor Teen Clinic. Telicia first turned to the Clinic for free prenatal care when she was 13. She is 19 now. The Clinic not only provided care during both pregnancies, but also provided medical attention, family planning and counseling throughout the years. Telicia met Ms. Buzi during her very first visit to the Clinic. Their conversations have been going on for six years.
Little words make a big difference
Telicia tries to heed Ms. Buzi's "little encouraging words". Telicia quit her first attempt at a high school equivalency diploma, GED, because it was hard. Her attitude was, "If it ain't working with me, I ain't working with it." Ms. Buzi would say, "You know you can't get a good paying job or buy the car you want without a GED," and Telicia knew she was making sense. "It is like you are out there in a boxing ring and you go back into the corner and Ms. Buzi says, 'You can do it. Take your time. Hang in there.' And you go back in and start punching."
A while back, Ms. Buzi suggested she do "a little something" with her hair, that she buy an outfit and mix and match. Telicia resisted but agreed to try. "Then I started dressing nice, and was getting compliments from men. Friends said I looked professional. It boosted my confidence. Now I keep it up."
Ms. Buzi is like a "mother hen," bringing turkey and canned goods at Thanksgiving, gifts for Christmas, and juice and crackers to Clinic visits. She locates resources. Telicia calls her to discuss important decisions. Her little words make a big difference to Telicia.
You can't just say, "I am your mother" and leave
Quiet and self-contained, Telicia now keeps a low profile. She sometimes dates, but mostly spends evenings and weekends with her daughters. She feels a bit sad about the life she gave up but she wants to bond with her children and set an example. They read together and bake cookies. The kids giggle when she hoses them down. Ms. Buzi taught her, "You can't just say, 'I am your mother' and leave."
Telicia also stays home to study. Looking serious and mature with hair neatly placed and round glasses, she smiles, "I finished my GED in February." Now getting good grades in a program to become a certified medical assistant, she plans to go to college, and inspired by the Teen Clinic, pursue a career in ob-gyn. She is living with her girls in housing for unwed mothers and will soon move to the independence of a subsidized apartment in the community. She saves money regularly. And despite her friends' teasing, she uses three kinds of birth control. This resilient African American mother of two affirms proudly, "I am becoming an adult pretty soon."
Results through talking
Telicia relates a recent incident. A staff person at her residential program made comments that offended her. She waited and then quietly confronted him. "This is the first time I ever did something like that. A few years ago I would have cussed him out. Ms. Buzi explained that on a job I must stay calm when I don't like what my boss does. Now I see you gain more respect and better results by talking."
Other young moms in the program turn to Telicia. They complain that their kids drive them crazy and that school is too hard. She tells them confidently, "Hang in there. Take your time." She beams with a big grin, "I use Ms. Buzi's words."
Baylor College of Medicine
Inner City, Houston
- Provide primary and reproductive healthcare to at risk, minority adolescents at six locations, including sites at BenTaub and LBJ Hospitals.
- Focus on preventive, prenatal and postpartum care and improved access for delivery.
- Social work and counseling services stress family planning, disease prevention, and decision making skills to avoid risky behaviors, and furthering education.
- Dr. Peggy Smith started teen clinics 25 years ago and continues to head the effort.
- Over 15,000 patient visits annually.