From son to father: Canaan Santiago’s unexpected journey

By Derek Jorgensen

Canaan Santiago used to be a typical teenager dealing with the responsibilities of work and school with some leisure time to spend with friends. But everything changed on Aug. 3, 2012 when Santiago attended a party at where and a young woman had sex. That night had consequences.

At 10:22 a.m. on Mar. 22, 2013, Santiago became a father to Levi Chance Santiago.

Taking care of a child is a big responsibility for anyone, especially an 18-year-old college student.

“You have to stay focused in my situation. I didn’t have much to my name so to have a kid out of the blue was a wake-up call,” said Santiago, a business administration major at Hudson Valley.

“Everything at this point is for him,” said Santiago. “My dreams are still my dreams, but if my child isn’t good what [can you be worth] as a parent?”

Even though Santiago’s mom was not initially delighted about the news, she has been an integral part in showing him the ropes on raising a child.

“She helped me and put it into perspective in how much money she makes and what she pays for the bills,” said Santiago.

“The last thing my mother wanted to hear was, ‘Hey mom, I got this girl pregnant, you’re going to be a grandmother,’” said Santiago.

Upon learning this, Carolyn Santiago was infuriated. Santiago said, “It’s understandable because that’s a lot of pressure to put on her.”

Santiago has always strived to be a hard worker. He began working 11 years old, delivering newspapers to help out his mother financially.

Santiago described his father as an influential part in becoming a man as well.

“Levi made me a man, but also my dad made me a very independent person. He taught me that life isn’t fair [and] that you need to be your own boss to get ahead in this world,” he said.

In the beginning of the semester, Santiago managed to work two jobs to provide for Levi. Santiago worked one job from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., attended classes from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and went straight to another job for eight hours.

“I might look like a bum [to some people] because I come in with my work clothes, I might look exhausted, my hair looks crazy, but at that point it doesn’t really matter what people think about you. You need to make sure your son is provided for,” he said.

Santiago’s daily life has changed quite considerably.

“My daily routine consists of very little sleep. I wake up several times throughout the night to check on Levi to feed and change him,” he said. “I then take Levi to daycare at seven.”

Despite all of this, he feels no resentment regarding the change in his lifestyle.

“He has impacted my life in such a positive way. I can’t believe what I’ve come from as a kid who could always hold a job but I really pushed myself to the limit, and I know I can push myself further,” said Santiago.

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