An Oklahoma dental school allowed one of its graduates to receive her diploma from her hospital bed during the commencement ceremony. Hours after the former student gave birth to her third son, making the day doubly special.
Cala French didn’t think she would make her own graduation from dental school, particularly since she went into labor five days before her due date. The Edmond native, who received her degree in dental hygiene, said she dressed up in her cap and maternity gown during the ceremony.
While she didn’t walk across the stage like her classmates, she was able to watch and hear her name get called live.
French said, “I started contracting with him and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to hold off. I think we can make it.’ But my water broke and I did not make it.”
Other 2022 graduates walked away with balloons and heartfelt cards, but her gift was far more precious. Her gift was a seven-pounds, seven-ounce baby boy named Kory.
“As soon as I started to hear that music playing. It got very emotional,” French said. “It was very heavy on my heart and no one was in the room with me besides Kory but then two minutes later my family walked in. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
On Monday, May 16, both mom and baby were released from the hospital and now are at home. They are reportedly doing well.
French was not the only mom to give birth during her graduation this weekend. Jada Sayles, a Dillard graduate and now a brand-new mama, also went into labor on the same day as her graduation ceremony.
She shared the news on social media, tweeting out, “I thought I was gonna walk across the stage to get my degree, instead I got my baby. My sweet face decided to make his way on MY big day (now his).”
Sayles said as delighted as she was to have her baby, she was even more ecstatic that her school’s president, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, and his wife dropped by the hospital after the ceremony to see the new mom and infant, while also conferring on her the bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on pre-law in person.
Kimbrough also tweeted about meeting the new baby and giving his former student her diploma.
“I even did the tassel part of commencement! This really was a very sweet moment. I’ll never forget it. To me, this is what HBCUs are all about!”