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Joddiann Howard

Getting pregnant at 13-years-old was the most devastating period of Joddiann Howard’s life. However, seeking help to cope with this life-changing experience and overcoming the difficulties it brings, is what, the now 30-year-old is encouraging.

Howard was attending a prominent high school in Westmorland when she got pregnant. The thought of disappointing her grandmother with the news of birthing a baby while she was still a child, forced her into deep depression, and she kept her pregnancy a secret from her family and
friends for eight months.

“I remember like it was yesterday, the excitement at school when news got back that they saw me and my mother at the clinic and I looked pregnant,” she recalls.

“I cried until I had no tears left. My face, eyes and lips were swollen, and my head was pounding,” she said with a chuckle.

Miss Howard, who is now the Product Development Supervisor at Caribbean Flavours and Fragrances, explained that although she lived with her grandmother, her parents were not the type she could talk to. She advised that parental support is important, and parents should try and have a relationship with their children.

“The type of parents I grew up with, especially Mom, was not somebody you’d want to tell something like that,” she explained. “When my
mother heard that I was pregnant, she was very angry. My grandmother, with whom I lived, cried. She was deeply disappointed, but she was the voice of reason in the entire situation,” Joddiann remembered.

Help from the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation

Even though Howard received help from her extended family to navigate motherhood and her education, she is imploring young women who are in similar situations to seek help. “Get help, because sometimes there are persons around us that can offer assistance, but we don’t know. For
instance, if I had known about the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation in the initial stages, I would not have gone through that period of depression,” she disclosed.

For Howard, the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation was her compass that helped her navigate the difficult period of balancing motherhood and her education. She said felt stuck and adrift, but the centre provided her with a plan. “I attended the Savanna-La-Mar Centre. We have
guidance classes every day and the basic subjects like math and English taught to us by teachers from all over the parish. So, by the time you are ready to transition back into the public-school system, you would not feel left behind.”

After leaving the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Joddiann was reintegrated at Petersfield High School where she benefited from the Principal Scholarship Fund. She completed sixth form at Frome Technical High School with twelve subjects at the CXC and CAPE levels. Joddiann Howard was awarded the Scotia Foundation GEMS Award in 2015, and later graduated from the University of the West Indies in
Pharmacology in 2016. Miss Howard has been working at Caribbean Flavours and Fragrances since January 2017. Her message to young women is to never be ashamed or think of themselves as disappointments. “Do not think of it as a disappointment, yes, it is not something right, you
have made a mistake, (except for situations of rape or abuse). At the end of the day, you must understand that you are still children and must operate as such, no running around with your baby’s father,” she warned.