Emotional Photo Shows Professor Cradling Student's Baby

October 31st 2016

Laura Donovan

Juggling higher education and parenthood is no easy feat, but having an understanding professor can make all the difference, according to one mother's recent Facebook post.

Sarah Thompson, a college student at the University of South Carolina and Lander University, recently shared a moving story about receiving support from her professor shortly after having a baby. It was posted on the popular Facebook page Love What Matters. The post shows a picture of Lander University math professor Dr. Josie Ryan holding Thompson's brand new child at the front of the class. Thompson wrote that Dr. Ryan knew she was overwhelmed with the responsibilities that come with being a parent. Dr. Ryan reportedly encouraged her student to bring the baby to class and also directed her to the breastfeeding area on campus, according to the social media post.


"She knew I'd be overwhelmed so literally begged me to bring Isaiah to class and even showed me where the breastfeeding room in the health center was at Lander University," Thompson wrote. "It's so reassuring to know there are professors out there like this."

Thompson hopes her post will encourage more women to ask for help in academia and beyond:

"Hopefully this post will encourage other educators or moms or pregnant/working women who are students to ask for help. She's encouraged me constantly and I've brought him to our Real Analysis class multiple times now. He'll cut the cheese and make the class giggle from time to time but we still get down to some serious math in there. I am in a perfect world when I am learning math in college with my baby right next to me or in my teachers arms. She taught like this; holding him the whole first class I brought him to."

Thompson told ATTN: via Facebook Messenger that Dr. Ryan's support makes such a difference to her and her partner, Chris, who is working part-time because he is also in school.

"It's very hard, and it's not all happy and rainbows all the time, but when someone, with no prior agenda, is helpful and goes out of their way for you — like Dr. Ryan — It makes the biggest difference."

She added that it has been helpful having her parents and Chris' parents help out with childcare:

"Our parents help watch [the baby] when Chris is at work & I need to study. Or if I think it'll make me late to class to bring him. Breastfeeding while in school can be sporadic because I'm also supplementing with formula or using my breast pump so Chris & our parents & siblings can feed him too, if we're running around or busy."

ATTN: has reached out to Dr. Ryan for comment and will update this post if she responds.

This photo highlights a struggle that many student parents face.

More than a quarter of undergraduate students are raising dependent children, according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR). Nearly 75 percent of student parents are women, and 43 percent of the entire student parent population are single moms.

Childcare is a common burden for mothers going to school, particularly if these women are in community college. Fewer than half of the over 1,000 community colleges in our country have childcare services on campus for students, according to a 2014 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUA).

Two years ago, a mother named Michelle Marie told The Atlantic that she felt like she had to "set aside [her] parent status in order to be a student" at Oregon State University. She added that she was very lucky that her aunt watched her child because she didn't feel the institution was very accommodating to parents.

Check out Thompson's full post below: