BY KEVIN DIFFILY // MAY 6, 2013 //
This is the first in a series of profiles featuring graduating seniors.
“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.
“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.”