Kids, Courts and Support

BY KEVIN DIFFILY // MAY 6, 2013 // 

This is the first in a series of profiles featuring graduating seniors. 

A lot of people watch shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” for entertainment. Joneiha Veiga, however, is more upset by them than entertained.

“You see all these TV shows…and it gets me so mad because they make it seem like their life is over and they can’t do anything,” said the 24-year-old Curry senior.

Veiga is angered by these shows because she believes they perpetuate stereotypes about women who have children at a young age. As the mother of two girls—Naveiha, 8, and Tajeiha, 6—Veiga said she is insulted by such generalizations.

Joneiha Veiga, with daughters Naveiha, 8, and Tajeiha, 6, is graduating this month with a degree in communication.

Joneiha Veiga, with daughters Naveiha, 8, and Tajeiha, 6, is graduating this month with a degree in communication.

“Just because I had kids at a young age doesn’t mean I had to stop doing what I love,” said Veiga, a communication major who has played softball and basketball at Curry. “Staying in sports and going to work and going to school was a major part of me being able to show my kids that just because you have setbacks, it doesn’t have to dictate your future.”

Growing up in Brockton, Veiga said teen pregnancy was not all that uncommon, and in some cases, it was even welcomed. She had Naveiha during her sophomore year at Brockton High School, took a year off, and returned to school. Tajeiha was born after she graduated high school, in 2006.

“Where I come from, there are girls getting pregnant just because they want to keep a man,” she said. “It’s crazy what people will do.”

Veiga said her girls’ father hasn’t been in their lives in recent years; she declined to say why. As a result, Veiga, Naveiha and Tajeiha have found strength and support from another family member: Veiga’s mother, Joanne.

“She’s been my motivator. She keeps me going, she watches the kids for me…she understands,” said Veiga. “She knows that I’m going through a lot, and she does what she can to help me do what I want to do.”

Although the two are close today, it has not always been that way. However, a shared interest in Naveiha and Tajeiha’s futures has allowed they to see the bigger picture.

“We’ve gotten a lot closer,” said Joanne. “Some of the things she’s had to deal with, being a mother, have brought us closer together.”

Veiga said Joanne’s help has made it possible for her to complete her degree, as well as to continue to play softball and basketball over the years. She has used up her eligibility, having played both sports at Massasoit Community College in Brockton before transferring to Curry in 2009. In addition, Veiga used to work as a waitress on the weekends at a Friendly’s in Brockton. To get to Curry from Brockton these days, Veiga takes three buses.

“Looking back at it now, it’s just like, ‘Dang, how did I do it?’” she said. “I had a lot of help from their father [early on], and then I had a lot of help from my mom.”

Professor Sharon Sinnott, her advisor at Curry, said she couldn’t be prouder of Veiga’s progress over the course of her time on campus.

“Joneiha truly understands the value of an education, demonstrated by overcoming so many obstacles to be able to graduate from Curry College,” Sinnott said. “She is an exceptional role model and mother to her children, and she is a good friend to all around her. I cannot wait to see her walk across that stage” on graduation day.

In years past, Veiga’s stage was the basketball court. At Massasoit, the 5-foot-8 forward led the team in points (18.5) her freshman year in 2007-08, and led the team again her sophomore year, with totals of more than 17 points per game and 14 rebounds per game. In her season-opener sophomore year, Veiga scored 30 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. She last played for Curry during the 2010-11 season, when she averaged around 10 points a game. Veiga poured in a season-high 22 points during one win over Lasell.

“Basketball is something that always kept me going,” said Veiga.

Veiga’s eldest daughter, Naveiha, is already starting to gain interest in sports. Naveiha has been drawn into basketball, like her mom, but has also found a love for cheerleading and dance. Veiga said she hopes her daughters will develop a true passion for basketball, just as she did. She knows how important it has been to her progress, on and off the court.

“Basketball is…” she paused, unable to find the words that accurately depicted her affection for and connection to the sport. After a few seconds, she smiled and simply said, “That’s why I need my kids to play.”

Comments

  1. Jan Donovan says:

    Joneiha, it’s been a pleasure to know you. Meeting a lot of Rashad’s friends has been a wonderful experience for both my husband and me. You exemplify all that a person can be when she is determined to succeed. You have not let anything keep you from achieving your goal….completing college and receiving a degree. You are a fine example to your two daughters. You are very lucky to have the support of your mom as well. I am very proud of you and I too cannot wait to see you cross that stage on graduation day. Continued good luck to you as you go beyond college….you will do well no matter what you choose to do!

  2. Lorraine C. Green-Johnson says:

    Congratulations Joneiha! What a beautiful article. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished since I have known you. You young lady are definitely an Achiever!!! Education is definitely the key! You have laid the foundation for many single mothers who are trying to climb that same mountain which you climbed. I can also relate to your struggles. Just continue to stay on the pathway of your dreams of success, and you will succeed and continue to be an exceptional mother for your beautiful daughters and have a successful and prosperous career. Congrats again!

  3. shawnna says:

    you are truely an inspiration…and knowing the struggle it is to be a young mom and not give up i truely admire ur strength….. because it is not easy but we as young moms can not show our daughters giving up is an option….congrats on all ur accomplishments

  4. joanne veiga says:

    Family support is important. But Joneiha was determined not to be another “statistic” in the teen pregnancy drop out category, She made the choice to finish school and she fought to do that. Because she was determined to succeed I helped as much as I could. I am very proud of her.

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