Video: College adjusts ceremony to allow woman, 38 weeks pregnant, to walk graduation stage first

ByKatie Kindelan for GMA ABCNews logo
Friday, May 12, 2023
Video: Woman walks at college graduation while 38 weeks pregnant
A Michigan mom will celebrate her first Mother's Day on Sunday with both a newborn baby and a college degree.

DEARBORN, Michigan -- A Michigan mom will celebrate her first Mother's Day on Sunday with both a newborn baby and a college degree.

Kelsey Hudie, of Taylor, Michigan, gave birth to her first child, a daughter she named Nylah, on May 9.

Just three days earlier, on May 6, Hudie walked across the stage at Henry Ford College in Dearborn to receive her associate's degree.

Hudie, 27, said she was 38 weeks pregnant and dilated when she received her diploma, which prompted a special accommodation after college officials learned of her near-delivery condition.

The college's president, Russell Kavalhuna, called Hudie to the stage at the very start of the ceremony, and allowed her to graduate before any of her peers.

"When we bring people through Henry Ford College, they've got grit. They've got perseverance," Kavalhuna said in his remarks. "And this student has told me, and us, 'I'm going to walk across that stage despite the fact that I am 38 weeks pregnant. I am dilated, and I can't wait for you, Russ, and your friends to talk for an hour-and-a-half so I need to graduate quickly.'"

Further explaining why he was graduating Hudie at the start of the ceremony, Kavalhuna told the audience, "There's a few things more important than this college degree, and that's the thing she's got to get to."

Hudie told ABC News it was a relief to not have to make the long walk other graduates did up and down multiple sets of stairs to the stage. But she said she had been "determined" to do so in order to receive her diploma.

"They did tell me that I didn't need to walk but I said, 'I'm walking. (College) was my accomplishment and this is the proof,'" she said. "I was expecting to walk in just like normal, but I was determined."

Hudie said it was even more heartwarming to be recognized for the hard work she put in finishing her degree while pregnant.

"The crowd just went wild. I think that put a big smile on my face," she said. "I didn't really realize when I was walking across the stage with her in my belly that I'd be a big inspiration to others."

Hudie said she worked full-time as a paraprofessional at a local elementary school while obtaining her associate's degree.

In her final semester, which overlapped with her final trimester of pregnancy, she said she took courses online so she wouldn't have to travel to and from classes.

After enjoying time with her newborn daughter, Hudie said she plans to return to school to obtain her bachelor's degree and become a full-time teacher.

"I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I don't remember wanting to do anything else," she said. "If anybody is going through the same thing, I hope that they don't give up."