Nicole Palmer doesn’t just seem mature beyond her years. The 17-year-old recent Westbrook High School graduate is legally considered an adult.

Palmer was emancipated in February so she could work more than 20 hours per week at Joker’s Family Fun N Games in Portland. For the past year, she’s had more expenses than most people her age.

In May 2010, Palmer gave birth to Logan, now an active 26-pound toddler with wispy white-blond curls and a tendency to charge into furniture.

“He’s definitely a bruiser,” she said last week.

A first-generation high school graduate, Palmer said she never considered dropping out of school when she found out she was pregnant at the beginning of her junior year. She kept a full schedule of classes into the spring, until her belly got too big for her to comfortably navigate the high school hallways.

“I couldn’t carry my backpack,” she said.

After taking a short break from school to give birth, Palmer finished up her semester during the summer by meeting with a tutor. At the same time, she started working at Joker’s.

Taking on the duties of motherhood on top of that didn’t overwhelm her. “I think it’s one of the easiest things to do,” she said.

Palmer put Logan in day care as she finished up high school. Next year, she expects to have help from her family and ex-boyfriend, Logan’s father, as she starts classes in early childhood education at Southern Maine Community College.

Palmer is enrolled in the AdvantageU program, in which students take two years of classes at one of the state’s community colleges and then transfer into the University of Maine System to complete their bachelor’s degree.

She plans to transfer to the University of Maine at Farmington and focus on special education. Her dream is to own a day-care center for children with mental disabilities.

Palmer said she isn’t worried that the responsibility of raising a child will get in the way of her goals. When difficulties arise, she said, her attitude is to accept the situation, do what has to be done and not waste time complaining.

“It’s life. A lot of people have it a lot harder,” she said. “I could have had triplets, you know?”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

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