Sitting on the ledge of her bathtub three years ago, 17-year-old Ashley Salazar finally broke down to her mother – she might be pregnant.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Ashley says. “I’ll never forget it.”
As it turns out, the teenager from Harlingen, Texas, was pregnant, something she never expected would happen to her. Her Aunt Jen suggested Ashley start a blog to share her feelings and help her cope. Responses were mixed at first, but the blog eventually became a refuge for other teenagers.
“I’m surprised how many people it’s actually helped, which is what I wanted all along,” Ashley says. Yet she never could have predicted where it would lead.
Four months pregnant, Ashley signed up to be on MTV’s 16 & Pregnant. MTV filmed the rest of her pregnancy and even after she gave birth to her daughter, Callie Danielle Salazar, in December 2009. Although the show was trying at times, Ashley cherished the opportunity to share her story with other girls. But one of the best opportunities from the show was her connection to MTV producer Elana Wertkin.
By the time Ashley finished the show, she’d received lots of encouragement from her readers to turn her blog into a book. She contacted Wertkin, who put Ashley in touch with a literary agent. The rest is history. Her book, Bittersweet Blessing: 16 & Pregnant, came out in January.
Now a student at UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism, Ashley is putting her writing skills to the test. And loving every minute of it. “I don’t want to leave,” she says, smiling. “I really like this school.”
Academic advisor Erin Day helped Ashley choose a degree plan that worked for her and Callie, picking lots of online classes for the undergrad. “Everyone here is so helpful and nice, Erin especially,” Ashley says. “And you have a specific school for journalism and a lot of journalism classes I’m excited to take.”
Being close to her daughter while at a school she loves is definitely a win-win for the published author. “Literally, every time I see her, she makes me happier than I’ve ever been,” Ashley says of her daughter. “She inspired me to better myself. I want to graduate for her.”