For Chandrea Lopez-Shue, 18, a single decision changed the rest of her life.
In the fall of 2008, Lopez-Shue, who was eight months pregnant, was unsure about her and her child’s future.
“I was on the fence of giving (him) up for adoption or keeping him, but the more ultrasounds I saw, the more I realized, ‘Wow, I can’t give him up,” she said. “He’s real. He’s mine.”
Having an ultrasound and being able to see her baby in the womb cemented Lopez-Shue’s mind about keeping and raising her child, Tristan Smith, who is now 18 months old.
The decision to raise Tristan also helped her choose a career path, motivated her to complete her coursework at Moffat County High School and enroll in classes at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
After meeting the ultrasound staff at The Memorial Hospital, Lopez-Shue decided to pursue a career in radiology.
Someday, she hopes to be an ultrasound technician like those at TMH who helped her make one of the biggest decisions of her life.
“Maybe I’ll be able to help somebody else 10 years down the road, somebody else that is in my position decide to keep their baby because that is by far the best decision I’ve ever made,” Lopez-Shue said.
Lopez-Shue, who moved to Craig with her family in third grade, will be graduating Saturday from MCHS. Earlier this month, she was able receive her associate’s degree from CNCC with other 2010 graduates.
Throughout high school, Lopez-Shue maintained a 3.5 grade point average, and at CNCC she maintained a 3.4 GPA.
“I’ve always kind of had good grades,” she said. “But, I hadn’t been that motivated until I had Tristan, and then I really had to kick it in gear.”
In the spring semester, Lopez-Shue took one class at MCHS and took 20 credits at CNCC.
She is also enrolled in an independent study program through the high school to shadow the radiology department at TMH.
Lopez-Shue used one word to describe how she balances high school, community college and being a mother — “carefully.”
“Its very time consuming,” she said. “You’ve really got to work around different schedules. I’ve got classes at the college, classes at the high school, it’s been rough.”
But all the hard work is for one reason, she said.
“I want Tristan to have the best life possible,” she said. “I don’t want to be one of those single moms who have to work crappy jobs. I want to have a good career and be able to support him in the future.”
The future for Lopez-Shue, however, has arrived.
On Monday, she started classes at Casper College in Casper, Wyo., taking Tristan with her to Casper. She is enrolled in the radiology program.
She hopes to graduate from Casper College with an associate’s degree in radiology, then transfer to a four-year college, possibly Mesa State College in Grand Junction, to receive her bachelor’s degree in radiology.
After a bachelor’s degree, Lopez-Shue is setting her sights on enrolling in a one-year ultrasound program to become an ultrasound technician.
But, Lopez-Shue said she wouldn’t be where she is now without the support of her friends and family.
“My family has been incredible,” she said. “They have helped me out so much. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my family. They have been there the entire time helping me.”
Lopez-Shue said her friends have been supportive of her since having Tristan, but her social life has taken a backseat to raising her son.
“I know it is for a good reason,” she said. “I’m doing it for Tristan. It gets hard. I’ll see my friends out having the normal teenage life and I do get jealous.”
But, Lopez-Shue said spending time with Tristan is better than “hanging out and going to the movies and doing all that stuff.”
“Yeah, they may be able to live that life, but I have something that they don’t have and that is a child and he is my world,” she said.
All things considered, Lopez-Shue said she is proud of where she has landed.
She thinks she has made a positive out of what could have been a negative situation.
“I think I have proved society and all of those statistics wrong,” she said. “I refuse to be one of the statistics where all teenage moms drop out of high school. … It is possible to be a mom and graduate and get a career.”