Graduating despite the odds

Magali Ladisiao juggles a baby, two jobs and full load of classes during the past year.

June 21, 2012|By Joanna Clay
  • Maggie Ladisiao, 17, poses with daughter Arianna, 1, at their home in Laguna Beach on Wednesday. Ladisiao juggles two jobs while being a parent and high school student. She will be graduating this week from Laguna Beach High.
Maggie Ladisiao, 17, poses with daughter Arianna, 1,… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

When the fourth period bell rang on a recent school day, Magali Ladisiao — known as Maggie by most — didn't grab lunch with friends in the quad or gossip in the halls between classes.

Instead, the 17-year-old Laguna Beach High School student hurried home to the two-bedroom apartment she shares with her family in Club Laguna to take care of her 1-year-old daughter Arianna.

On Thursday, despite raising a baby and holding down two jobs, Ladisiao participated in a momentous teenage rite of passage — graduation.

"I made bad decisions. I wasn't a bad kid," she said. "Everything happens for a reason. I couldn't just give up."

In September 2010, Maggie found out she was pregnant after a friend suggested Maggie come with her to the community clinic to get birth control pills. While at the clinic, they asked to run a pregnancy test. It came back positive, even though two at-home pregnancy tests had come back negative.


At first she kept the pregnancy a secret, only telling her boyfriend, the father of the baby. They've since broken up but he remains active in Arianna's life and helps support her financially. He accompanied her to doctor visits and ultrasounds.

During Thanksgiving, when her mother remarked on her stomach, Maggie said she was bloated and laughed it off. She was three months along.

A month later, at the behest of her then-boyfriend, she told her family the truth.

The first thing her father said when she told him the news was "what about school?"

Her mother, a maid at the Holiday Inn, and father, a cook at Papa's Tacos, always ingrained in her the importance of education. She didn't want to disappoint them.

"They always worked hard to give us everything," she said. "I think they thought they failed."

Her 12-year-old brother, Pablo, said he was worried she wouldn't finish school and even jokingly told her she wouldn't walk at graduation.

"As you grow up, you're going to have to choose what you'll do in life," Pablo said, remarking on what he's learned as he's watched his sister during the past year.

It's been far from an easy road.

Right now, Maggie works up to 30 hours a week at two jobs, one at Heavenly Couture downtown and the other at Coldstone Creamery in Irvine.

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