Woman in active labor collects degree at graduation ceremony: ‘Best day ever’

On May 6, 2023, a woman named Kelsey Hudie showed tremendous dedication and perseverance when she walked into her college graduation ceremony while in labor.

The graduation ceremony took place at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, and was a momentous occasion for Hudie, who had been working hard to earn an associate liberal arts degree in education. Her academic journey had begun in 2018, and over the course of five years, she had refused to give up on her dream, despite the challenges she faced.

As the graduation ceremony began, Hudie was understandably worried about the amount of walking she would have to do, considering she was 38 weeks pregnant and already dilated. However, she was determined to walk across the stage to receive her diploma degree, even if it meant having her baby in the middle of the ceremony. “Nothing was going to stop me from walking that stage — like 100% — even if I had her first,” she said.

Hudie’s determination paid off when she was able to walk across the stage and collect her hard-earned degree. Her aunt, who worked at the college, had gotten in touch with the administration just minutes before the afternoon commencement, and they had no problem changing the order to accommodate Hudie’s plans.

Henry Ford College President Russell Kavalhuna spoke at the commencement, expressing the college’s commitment to meeting its students where they are: “We care so deeply about our students that we want to meet them where they are. There are a few things more important than this college degree, and that’s the thing she’s got to get to. So, I hope you will allow me to quickly move through one degree before we get to the rest of you all.”

Hudie’s aspirations for education and motherhood intersected in a powerful way at the graduation ceremony. She had always dreamed of becoming a teacher and planned to transfer to Eastern to pursue her goal. “When I graduated from high school — apart from having her — that was the best day of my life, and I had the best feeling walking across that stage to get my diploma because it was this feeling of achievement that I had finally done it,” she said.

Hudie’s achievement was all the more remarkable because she gave birth to her firstborn, Nyla, just three days after the graduation ceremony. Her determination to achieve her goals despite the challenges she faced adds a beautiful and unique chapter to her journey, which she will no doubt share with her daughter as she grows up. “I hope one day she just knows how special she is.

Even without graduating and everything, I’ve wanted to be a mom for so long, so I’m just so happy,” Hudie said. “I don’t really like to make a big show about things, but I figured since they were making a big show about it, I have to finish it. I just had to show it off like I finally did it. We finally did.”