Arts & Life, Special Projects

Motherhood amidst adversity

After several hours of being unconscious, fourth-year healthcare administration major and international business minor student Samantha Schoner was filled with thoughts as she lied down in the hospital bed adjacent to her newborn which, at that moment, she wanted nothing to do with.

Her life was far from a fairytale. There was no magical moment that involved fairy godmothers waving wands to make life easier for Schoner.

She is not your ordinary 25-year-old mother.

In her freshman year at Orange Coast College, Schoner’s fate was revealed by the two lines that appeared on the pregnancy test.

02/23/23 - CSULB student Samanta Schonner sits with her children. On the left side is Cohen, 6, followed by Corrian, 3.
02/23/23 - CSULB student Samanta Schonner sits with her children. On the left side is Cohen, 6, followed by Corrian, 3. Photo credit: Tanisha Bucad

Schoner became a mother at 18 years old and had no other reaction upon seeing her first son but to cry. However, beneath those tears hid a sense of rejection.

Giving birth at such a young age was not something she had the capacity to mentally and physically understand. For two years she suffered from postpartum depression.

I didn’t understand what I was doing,” said Schoner. I was just walking into this life of what I thought I knew.

On top of her depression, she was involved in a toxic relationship for a year with her boyfriend, the father of her firstborn, and she experienced domestic violence for six months.

Schoner attempted to escape the toxicity by filing a restraining order but it was rejected. In the end, it was her friend who freed her from the relationship when they had her boyfriend moved out.

02/23/23 - Schoner goes down the stairs with her children while she holds her youngest son's hand.
02/23/23 - CSULB student Samantha Schoner spends time with her children and guides her youngest son down the stairs who saw the campus for the first time. Photo credit: Tanisha Bucad

From students’ and strangers’ judging stares to professors’ criticisms, her struggles as a student mother persisted. However, that did not discourage her from attending classes at OCC.

Despite being young and clueless, she was able to juggle studying and parenthood because of CalWORKs Child Care which was offered at her community college. Schoner also managed to navigate motherhood with the help of her parents and friends, which she said she considered her support system.

“She’s [Schoner] called me crying multiple times,” said Elizabeth Moledo, a friend of Schoner’s for 11 years. “She’s very stressed with school because she’s so determined to finish on top of trying to perform her best as a mom.”

After three years of taking classes in her community college, Schoner transferred to Long Beach State in the Spring of 2020 as a healthcare administration major with a minor in international business.

In that same year she went through pregnancy for the second time with her husband. From changing diapers to cooking, her husband was there to support her before and after childbirth.

Everything was working well for the past few years. However, chaos was a friend of Schoner’s.

Her postpartum depression returned and she suffered for three years along with body dysmorphia. Self-love became an exhausting pursuit as she battled the ideology of “moms being skinny.”

Apart from her personal struggles from childbirth, she had to endure manipulation and constant accusations from her husband which gradually led to her withdrawal from her friends.

“I walked away which was the best choice of my life,” she said. “I believe everybody should be able to do that and stand on their own two feet because it’s not fair for women.”

She decided to break the cycle and leave her husband in December 2022. Schoner welcomed the new year as a single mother and life has never been better for her.

Her life remained chaotic, but it was a beautiful one that revolved around her children.

Beyond being a student mother, she is a leader and an advocate. Schoner is part of the board of trustees in Associated Students, Inc and a parenting mentorship program at CSULB.

She also assists healthcare administration students as the president of the Health Care Administration Student Forum in connecting and developing professionally.

02/23/23 - Schoner's eldest son, Cohen, dreams to attend college at his mother's university someday.
02/23/23 - Schoner's eldest six-year-old son, Cohen, dreams to attend college at his mother's university someday. Photo credit: Tanisha Bucad

Regardless of her other responsibilities in college, Schoner constantly guarantees that more than enough time is allotted for her children. At the end of the day, Schoner said she always looks forward to her sons’ stories about their day.

From the 18-year-old who cried to the 25-year-old who conquered, Schoner now looks ahead to witness every moment of her sons’ lives as she draws closer to the end of her journey toward her healthcare administration degree with a minor in international business in the spring of 2024.

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