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Michigan Woman Attends Graduation Ceremony While in Labor

One graduate was in a bigger hurry than most to receive her diploma from Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, on May 6, as she attended a commencement ceremony while in labor with her first child.

Henry Ford College President Russell A Kavalhuna addressed graduates shortly after the start of the ceremony, saying that he had learned of one graduate who needed a quicker ceremony than her peers.

Kavalhuna said: "When we bring people through Henry Ford College, they’ve got grit, and they’ve got perseverance, and this student has told me and us, ’I’m gonna 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.’ And so what do you think I said?

“There’s a few things more important than a college degree, and that’s the thing she’s gotta get to,” he said, before soon-to-be mother Kelsey Hudie walked across the stage and received her diploma as a lullaby played in the background.

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Hudie told Click on Detroit: “On the Tuesday before we graduated, they said that I was dilated two or three times, so that wasn’t going to stop me from walking across the stage. I even said if I had her before the walk, I was just going to hold her in my arms and walk across that stage.”

Hudie has since given birth to her baby girl, Nyla, and will train to be a teacher, local media reported. Credit: Henry Ford College via Storyful

Video transcript

- At this time, I'd like to introduce the President of Henry Ford College, Russell Kavalhuna.

[APPLAUSE]

RUSSELL KAVALHUNA: Well, thank you, Dr. Perry, and graduates. Good afternoon. I have to tell you, I wasn't planning to speak this early in our commencement ceremony. But folks, I hope if you're new to Henry Ford College, you have learned, but if you haven't learned this yet, I'm about to show it to you, we care so deeply about our students that we want to meet them where they are, to give them opportunities for success in anything we can do to help them.

And so imagine this, imagine that you were one of these graduates who had spent years trying to accomplish what is so important in our society, a college degree. And another thing happened in your life where you became pregnant, and you continued to work, and you continued to work. And as those two dates, the date of your baby coming and the date of your graduation were getting closer and closer together, well today, folks, I was told just a little bit ago that we had one of those students who had that happen.

[APPLAUSE]

I will tell you, when we bring people through Henry Ford College, they've got grit, they've got perseverance. 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. And so what did you think I said?

So what we're going to do for the rest of you is to hear about a couple of ideas from one of our leaders of our community, and talk about graduation, and then we're going to confer degrees upon you all, and you'll walk across the stage, and you'll get a chance to meet some of us, including me, and I can't wait for that. But there's one person who can't wait even more than me. And so we're going to do all that really quickly, really quickly, and you'll get a quick version of how we're going to do each of your degrees. But because we want to help Kelsey move along to a probably-- there's 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 do the rest of you all. And it is my privilege to confer degrees upon the graduates. And with the authority vested in me by the Henry Ford College Board of Trustees and the state of Michigan, I confer upon this person an Associate Degree in arts with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities pertaining there to.

- Kelsey Hudie.

[APPLAUSE]

RUSSELL KAVALHUNA: So Dr. Perry, I will get back on script now.