Jada Sayles may be a new mom, but she’s already learning that kids have a way of stealing our thunder!
On May 14th, Jada was looking forward to graduating from Dillard University, a historically Black university in New Orleans, Louisiana. The day should have been a culmination of four years of diligent studying and hard work for Jada, who was nine months pregnant and scheduled to be induced a few hours after the ceremony. Her baby had other plans, though!
“(The contractions) were getting stronger and stronger,” Jada recalled. “It happened so fast. I didn’t even realize I was missing graduation because it was just such a fast labor.”
Before going into the hospital at around 4:30 a.m., Jada texted the president of her university, Walter M. Kimbrough, to tell him she’d be missing commencement. Jada has worked especially hard to leap hurdles in her life to get this degree.
“I was 17 and I was homeless,” Jada said. “I actually graduated high school as a junior because I needed a place to stay and so I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have a place to stay so I’m going to go to college because they have housing.'”
Perhaps it was her history of perseverance that inspired the outgoing university’s president to do something he’s “never done before;” he grabbed his graduation gear and headed to the hospital to celebrate one of the newest Dillard graduates in person!
Jada went into labor on Friday evening. Texted me around 4:30 am Saturday saying she was being admitted, & the baby was born on her graduation day, May 14th. So we rolled up to the hospital so I could finish my tenure in the most special way. #myDU pic.twitter.com/JieETrXVgy— Walter M. Kimbrough (@HipHopPrez) May 15, 2022
As luck would have it, Jada had brought her cap and gown to the hospital with her in hopes they would tell her she wasn’t really in labor. When that didn’t happen, she had her son, put on her graduation outfit, and got her degree right there in the hospital with new baby Easton on her arm.
“I did something today I have never done before in 18 years as a college president,” he tweeted. “I conferred a degree in a hospital.”
The university’s president shared another video of Jada ceremoniously moving her tassel from one side of her cap to the other to symbolize commencement.
“This really was a very sweet moment,” he wrote. “I’ll never forget it.”
Now Jada can add “giving birth” to her extensive list of accomplishments in recent years! She even managed to pull off an amazing grade point average in her last year, all while taking classes heavily pregnant.
“I actually graduated with a 4.0 for (my last) semester,” she said. “It was just, I was so proud of myself and I wanted to celebrate such a big accomplishment. I commend women, even if you’re just sitting and being pregnant, because this is tough.”
Jada earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and plans to attend law school, but first she’ll take a 6-week break to rest, recover, and bond with her new baby. She hopes that sharing her story online will inspire other women, particularly people of color, to never give up on their dreams for a better life.
“You can do it with a kid,” she said. “You can do it without a kid. You can do it pregnant. You can do it not pregnant. You can do it.”
Nothing was going to get in this smart mama’s way! We’re so glad her university president supported Jada in this beautiful way. This is a graduation we won’t soon forget!
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