Being a full-time college student with a baby at home is practically an Olympic feat. Between homework, child care, and tuition, it takes a huge amount of dedication to make it to the finish line.
And sometimes, you have to get a little creative.
That’s why Wayne Hayer, a student at Morehouse College, decided to bring his baby to class recently. He couldn’t find child care for his 5-month-old, Assata, and he couldn’t afford to miss class with midterms coming up.
Luckily, Wayne had a supportive professor. Dr. Nathan Alexander warmly welcomed Assata to the class.
“Anything I can do to support you, let me know,” he’d told Wayne previously. “That’s what I’m here for as an educator.”
Professor Alexander even offered to hold her while he taught so Wayne could focus on his notes. Amazingly, Assata was calm and well-behaved during the entire lecture.
The photos of this lecture are so touching that Professor Alexander has received praise from thousands of people on Twitter.
Dr. Nathan Alexander is a professor at Morehouse College, a historically black college for men in Atlanta, Georgia.
One of his students, Wayne Hayer, has a 5-month-old daughter.
With midterms looming, Wayne didn’t want to miss Professor Alexander’s class to take care of his daughter. He couldn’t find affordable child care for the morning, either.
So he brought baby Assata to class with him.
Wayne, a senior majoring in kinesiology, told CNN he’d been hesitant to go to class with Assata.
“I was nervous to go to class,” he said. “Morehouse is an all-male college and seeing me with a baby strapped to me would make all eyes be on me.”
But when Wayne explained the baby’s presence to Professor Alexander, the teacher immediately understood.
To help Wayne focus in class, Professor Alexander strapped Assata to his own chest and taught the rest of the lecture with her in his arms.
Thanks to Professor Alexander’s impromptu show of support, Wayne was able to participate as a regular member of the class.
Some of the other students captured the moment with photos, which they shared on social media.
The photos went massively viral. One student’s Twitter post now has over 300,000 likes.
“Student came to class today with his child due to no babysitter or anybody to watch her while he was in class,” the student wrote. “My professor NATHAN ALEXANDER said ‘I’ll hold her so you can take good notes!'”
People were seriously impressed by Professor Alexander’s dedication to his students.
And they also praised Wayne’s commitment to his studies. Being a parent and a student is a major challenge!
Some people were also amazed that baby Assata was so well-behaved in this stranger’s arms.
This isn’t the first time that a caring teacher has held a student’s baby in class — amazingly, the babies always seem to be calmed down by the lecture.
Professor Alexander’s compassionate moment even grabbed the attention of award-winning director Ava DuVernay.
Professor Alexander admitted to BuzzFeed News that he’d been worried about looking after Assata during class.
“I’m not a father, I don’t have children of my own,” he explained. “I was worried that she would start crying. But it actually went perfectly. She was extremely well-behaved.”
Professor Alexander bounced her up and down and patted her as he taught. Eventually, Assata just dozed off.
“When she started falling asleep, I told the class ‘I guess I’m being boring right now,'” the professor joked.
This heartwarming moment didn’t come out of nowhere. Professor Alexander had noticed that Wayne often had to leave to take care of his daughter, so a couple weeks ago, he told the student to bring Assata anytime.
Assata’s mom, Firda Hayer, was deeply touched by the outpouring of support.
“We are new parents. Wayne works two jobs and is a full-time student. He’s rarely at home because he’s out there providing for us,” she explained on Facebook. “With us being thousands of miles away from family and friends, I’m usually left with the baby to myself. Anyone who is and has been a new mommy understands how overwhelming it can get. Wayne wanted to give me a break. Plus, he’d get to spend more time with Assata in the process. It’s a win-win. Thank you for encouraging us to continue to push forward. Thank you to black educators like Dr. Nathan Alexander for your compassion and understanding. This came at the right time.”
As for Professor Alexander? He called the praise a “nice recognition” of teachers as well as students who have kids at home. With so many barriers to education, small gestures like this make all the difference.