A woman shocked her classmates when she donned her cap and gown at her university graduation just 21 hours after giving birth – with her baby in tow.
Zeinab Abdalla, 26, welcomed her second daughter Salma at 8 pm but didn’t let it stop her accepting her master’s diploma in special education the next afternoon.
The mum-of-two said graduating was a very important moment for her as she is the first in her family to reach third-level education.
She was released from Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis just in time to attend the 5.30pm ceremony with her newborn.
Zeinab spent two years working towards her degree at the University of St Thomas in and said that pregnancy didn’t make the final stretch before graduation any easier.
Zeinab, who runs her own daycare business, studied at night in order to achieve her goal.
The mum, who moved to the US in 2006 from Syria, said morning sickness early on in her pregnancy threw a spanner in the works but she was determined not to let it affect her academic performance.
Although her mother Anab Yuguf, 50, thought Zeinab was “crazy” to attend graduation just one day after welcoming baby Salma, she said it was important to her to accept her degree in person.
Zeinab said: “I discovered I was expecting my second baby in September 2017 and doctors told me my due date was on May 16.
“We are told our graduation date a year before it happens so I knew I would be graduating on May 19.
“Of course being pregnant made university even more challenging. I was quite sick with morning sickness at the beginning, which as you know, is very unpredictable.
“Obviously attendance is extremely important and there’s a lot of assignments and group work. It was really challenging to get to the end.
“I was so tired a lot of the time and I was working full-time as well. I run my own daycare and I was studying by night.
“I had Salma around 8 PM and the next morning I discussed graduation with my family and my doctors and everyone was shocked. However, they were really supportive.
“It was really important for me to attend because I was the first person in my family to graduate. That’s the main reason I wanted to go.
“I wanted to reward myself. It took so much hard work to get to this point.
“There were so many late nights studying, trying to get assignments in on time. Driving too and from college on those long winter nights.
“I needed to do this for myself.
“My mom was the one who thought I was crazy.
“She is Somalian and in our culture when a woman gives birth, she rests.
“She doesn’t cook for a few weeks as the neighbors bring food for the family and she definitely doesn’t go back to work.
“My mom couldn’t believe it when I wanted to go and graduate hours after giving birth.”
Zeinab said she would never have been able to get through her degree without the support of her husband Abdul Kadir, 32, who helped to care for their daughter Aisha Ahmed, four.
The mom said Abdul, who runs his own security business, would drive to pick her up on cold winter nights and support her through stressful assignments.
Zeinab said: “My husband Abdul has been the best support to me, taking care of our daughter, picking me up from college and helping me keep calm when I was stressed.”
Zeinab, who lives in St Paul, Minnesota, says her classmates were delighted to see baby Salma at the ceremony.
The mom hopes to take a break from her studies until the autumn, when she plans to begin a Ph.D.
“All my classmates came and looked at the baby, it was really sweet. Everyone says she looks really like me.
“I’m really proud of myself and everything I’ve achieved but I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful support at St Thomas’.
“For the next few months I’m hoping to enjoy my time with my new baby and hopefully return to university in the fall to work towards my Ph.D. That’s my dream.”