Aug. 26, 2013 at 12:57 PM ET
MTV's "Teen Mom" franchise has a new star, and she's nothing like Amber Portwood or Jenelle Evans, who have both had their run-ins with the law. Instead, Katie Yeager of "Teen Mom 3" seems to have her head squarely on her shoulders. Fame and riches aren't what she wants out of participating in the docuseries.
"When I started researching ('Teen Mom'), I saw, wow! It really is making a difference," Yeager told TODAY.com about her decision to share her struggles. "It's controversial, but it's definitely helping young girls to see the consequences of having unprotected sex and having sex too early. And I felt like I want to help."
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy agrees that the show is spreading a necessary message.
"Every season of 'Teen Mom' creates more public discourse about teen pregnancy, and keeps the issue in the national spotlight," Marisa Nightingale, the group's senior media advisor, said in a statement to TODAY.com. "When young people identify with someone on TV, it helps them make a connection to their own lives and consider how they would handle similar situations. So the more candid, personal stories viewers get to see, the more opportunities there are for viewers to identify with them and think about their own lives."
Yeager admits that she was nervous about joining the show and facing all of the negativity that previous "Teen Mom" personalities have dealt with in their lives and the media. But that wasn't enough to stop her from wanting to share the lessons she's learning.
"Why would I close myself off to an opportunity to help so many people just because of what people are going to say about me personally?" Yeager said. "There's always going to be negative people out there, even if you're not on a TV show. I've accepted that. There are people who don't agree with my life, the way my life is, or just don't like me for whatever reason. I have enough support on my end in the people that are around me and in my life. That's the only thing that matters to me."
The young mom, now 19, was first featured on season four of "16 and Pregnant" with her then-boyfriend, Joey Maes. She gave birth to baby Molli in 2011.
Yeager said that in this first season of "Teen Mom 3," viewers will see her and Maes struggle to make their young family work. But ultimately, the two do split. One of the major factors in their breakup? Her desire to go to college.
Yeager is currently working full time as a secretary, and this week, will head back to school to pursue a bachelor's in social work at the University of Utah. "I want to work with child protective services. I want to work in the foster care system," she revealed. "I've just always wanted to help others."
See how her plans pan out when "Teen Mom 3" premieres Monday at 10 p.m. on MTV.