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An aspiring lawyer who graduated college and gave birth to her first child — on the same day — received her diploma in the hospital.
Jada Sayles, 21, was studying criminal justice at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, when she discovered she was pregnant.
"I took six pregnancy tests because I couldn’t believe it," Sayles tells TODAY Parents.
Although her May 14 due date was the same day as her college graduation ceremony, Sayles wasn’t troubled — due dates are just an estimation (calculated by 40 weeks after the first day of your last period) and doctors figured she had a bit more time.
But the night before her graduation ceremony, Sayles felt contractions. Assuming she was experiencing Braxton Hicks (irregular contractions that can possibly signal labor), she headed to Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, just in case.
"I brought my cap and gown because I thought they would just send me home," she says. However, Sayles’ labor advanced over the next four hours and after 45 minutes of pushing, she welcomed her first child, a son named Easton M’Kale Fuller.
But the surprises were far from over — although Sayles had missed her 8:00 a.m. graduation ceremony that morning, she texted Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough with the update.
They're bonded through the fact that Sayles completed a sophomore fellowship under Kimbrough, and his wife was her pre-law advisor and freshman professor. “I call him my ‘School Parent,’” says Sayles.
Kimbrough showed up the next day wearing a suit and carrying his presidential regalia, ready to re-create a proper graduation ceremony in the new mom's hospital room. Sayles was shocked.
The improvised ceremony acknowledged years of hard work, especially while Sayles was exhausted and battling morning sickness.
"Congratulations. You may approach the bed and receive your degree," Kimbrough said in a video shot inside Sayles’ hospital room while her older sister and cousins cheered and Easton fussed.
"This is memorable for all of us — I have been president for 18 years and this is the coolest thing I have ever done," Kimbrough tells TODAY Parents. "Jada persevered over a lot and she is a phenomenal person."
Sayles is warmed by the love. "When people say how strong I am, it's so encouraging," says the new mom. "But I am very sleepy."