Jada Sayles earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a concentration in pre-law. The 21-year-old gave birth hours after names were read during Dillard University’s graduation on campus in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Less than a day later, college President Walter Kimbrough arrived at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center to hand Sayles her degree amid a special hospital room ceremony.
“It just feels unreal,” Sayles told Fox News Digital. “After Dr. Kimbrough gave me my degree, I didn’t realize how big [the moment] was.”
Doctors told Sayles her due date was May 14, which was the same date of her graduation. Still, she planned on walking at the ceremony and even began steaming her graduation gown at a hotel near campus.
“A day before my due date nothing had changed,” Sayles said of her pregnancy. “I wasn’t dilating, nothing. I was actually scheduled to get induced at 5 p.m. after graduation.”
Earlier that morning Sayles’ contractions started, so she went to the hospital, where doctors determined she was in labor.
Sayles’ son, Easton, was born at 1:04 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.
“It just feels unreal”
Sayles’ name was read during graduation roughly around 10 a.m. Kimbrough also announced that he would head to the hospital to personally hand Sayles her degree.
“I mentored under him, so we have a really good relationship where I kept him updated with my pregnancy,” Sayles said, adding that Kimbrough’s wife, Adria Nobles Kimbrough, an attorney, was her pre-law adviser at Dillard.
In a series of tweets, Dr. Kimbrough shared how he was part of Sayles’ academic journey as well as her special day.
“I did something today I have never done before in 18 years as a college president,” he captioned a selfie. “I conferred a degree in a hospital…”
“I even did the tassel part of commencement!” Kimbrough shared in another tweet. “This really was a very sweet moment. I’ll never forget it.”
Both @AttyAdria and I have relationships with @JadaSayles that span her entire 4 years. I would have done this for anyone that asked but she didn’t have to- I asked yesterday what time can we come! To me this is what HBCUs are all about! pic.twitter.com/J5PPyQhFvH
— Walter M. Kimbrough (@HipHopPrez) May 15, 2022
When asked if she was disappointed to miss the on-campus commencement, Sayles said the hospital ceremony was “way better.”
“Easton was there in my arms,” she added. “It’s definitely memorable so that’s the highlight of my academic career, honestly.”
Sayles said Easton is a good baby who sleeps all day and loves to be near his mom.
She hopes to work in public policy and plans on attending law school.