Charon Miller and her daughter, Imani. Since 1986, Ms. Miller has cared for Imani and received her bachelor's and master's degrees.
Charon Miller didn't let being a single mother stop her from trying to make the best choices for herself and her daughter.
The 26-year-old woman, who seems wise beyond her years, is a first-time mother of 4-year-old Imani.
Ms. Miller, a Sandusky resident, discovered motherhood was in her future as an undergraduate student at the University of Toledo. "When I found out I was pregnant, my first thought was, 'Oh, my God,'" recalled Ms. Miller. "I was a psychology major and I had one year of school to go."
Although Ms. Miller is no longer with her daughter's father, the determined young woman said she knew it was important to make positive choices for herself and her child.
"At first, I didn't let anyone know. But soon after, I told my mom and my sister, and continued to go to school and I just kept the pace," she said.
During her pregnancy, about one week before final exams, doctors told Ms. Miller that her daughter might have Down Syndrome, a disorder that can occur when a child is born with an extra copy of a chromosome.
Although tests later proved that her baby did not have Down Syndrome, Ms. Miller said it became hard to concentrate in school or during the remainder of her pregnancy.
Still, she pressed on.
"I wonder about that all the time. How I got through all of that," she said.
Imani - which in Swahili means faith - was born Aug. 6, 1996.
"When she was born they took her right away, but I wanted to see her to make sure everything was all right. She was so beautiful," recalled Ms. Miller, who was supported by family and friends at the time of her daughter's birth.
Amazingly, just three weeks after Imani was born, Ms. Miller was back in school.
"There was no reason to quit. That never crossed my mind. I was going to finish school," she said.
And finish she did. In June of 1997, she graduated from UT with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Ms. Miller then moved back to her hometown and worked while raising her daughter alone, before deciding to further her education.
So with the help of family and babysitters, Ms. Miller worked, raised her daughter, and commuted from Sandusky to UT to take graduate classes. In May of last year Ms. Miller received her master's degree in education for community counseling. She now works in the multi-systemic therapy program at Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services in Fremont.
At times Ms. Miller said she has felt the guilt that many working mothers face when leaving their children in another's care to go to work or attend classes.
"But in the end I know I did it all for my daughter. She's like nobody I've ever known," said Ms. Miller.
When Ms. Miller's daughter was asked why her mother is so special, she responded without hesitation:
"Because she loves me!"