Texas Observer: The Sisterhood

Full article by Roxanna Asgarian


When Joidan Felix went off to college in 2014, she had a plan: She wanted to become an accountant. A knack for numbers had helped Felix ace her accounting classes in the business magnet program at Houston’s Westside High School. That led to an internship in Halliburton’s tax department her senior year. “It just came naturally,” she said. “I think it’s what I’m meant to do.”

But she struggled to adjust when she moved to Wichita Falls, an almost six-hour drive from her home and family, to attend Midwestern State University. Felix was failing her accounting class, even with a tutor. A first-generation college student, she was also having a hard time getting her financial aid squared away. And in the winter of her sophomore year, she unexpectedly got pregnant. When she told the father, he abruptly cut off contact with her. Angry, scared and ashamed, she dropped out of school and took a job at a shoe store. She was homesick and lonely, and didn’t tell her family or friends about the baby until she was seven months pregnant. “Expectations were so high, it was so much pressure,” she said. “I just didn’t know how to come out and say, ‘Hey, I’m pregnant.’”

Felix moved back home with her mother in southwest Houston in July 2016 and gave birth to her son, Jair, that September. She couldn’t afford her own place, so for the next three years she stayed with her mom, taking the bus to her job at a call center. Her salary barely covered the cost of childcare. A few months ago, her mother announced she was moving to Katy, leaving Felix, who doesn’t have a car, without a way to get to work. Felix realized she needed help.