Katie Lewis thanks her five-week-old daughter, Allie, for motivating her to finish nursing school. She also thanks her professor from the University of Texas at Tyler-Palestine for holding her while Lewis took an exam.
Lewis is a 22-year-old single mother in level four of nursing school. On May 2, Lewis will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree of science in nursing, her baby Allie on her hip.
How a Woman Juggled Single Motherhood and Nursing School
Lewis completed 16 weeks of the hands-on portion of nursing school in only six weeks so she could spend more time with her baby once she was born. However, Lewis underwent a complication during her pregnancy, which made her work even more difficult.
“During my pregnancy I was diagnosed with hyperemesis,” she said. “I was throwing up my entire pregnancy all day everyday. During two of my tests I was running out of the testing room to go throw up in a trash can in the hallway. It was really rough. There were times where I was ready to give up on school. It was so hard but Allie just gave me all the motivation to keep going and finish.”
Even after Allie was born, Lewis continued to run into obstacles that made it harder for her to obtain her degree. Luckily, she had an incredible support system. Lewis’ mom often took care of Allie when Lewis needed it, and even Lewis’ professors began to step up.
“Fourteen days after I had Alianna, I had to go back to school to take a test for my leadership class,” she explained. “I told Dr. George jokingly that I was mad at her because I had to leave my two-week-old baby for the first time. She said that she would have been happy to hold her. Well, fast forward three weeks and she got to hold her during a test.”
A Single-Mother Student, a Test and a Very Sick Baby
Usually, Lewis has tests at 9:00 am, a time when her own mother can take Allie, since she works as a nurse practitioner from 12 pm to 12 am. However, when the time of her test changed, she struggled to find someone to take her child.
“My mom had to work, my dad was out of town and my primary babysitter had school so I texted Dr. George a few days before the test,” Lewis said.
I said, ‘Hey Dr. George, I know this is super unconventional but I’m having trouble finding a sitter for Monday for Allie because it’s in the afternoon. I know you had offered before to hold her during a test… is there anyway I can bring her with me?’
Dr. George responded quickly.
“Ummm you can totally bring her… I’m already excited!” Dr. George wrote back.
How a Professor Supported Her Student in a Time of Need
One thing neither Lewis nor Dr. George expected was a turn in Allie’s health on the day of the test. That day, Allie was diagnosed with an ear infection and un upper respiratory infection.
“Dr. George without hesitation just held and rocked my sick and fussy baby throughout the entire test. Teachers like Dr. George make nursing school possible for all of us, but especially single moms. All of our teachers at the Palestine Campus care for us and help us out in any way they can for us to achieve our goals. I’m so grateful for the school and all of our amazing teachers, especially Dr. George.”
How Supporting Someone Can Help Them Succeed
Natalie Norman, who witnessed Dr. George’s kind act, took a photo and posted it to Facebook.
“She has always told us not to miss a test and to call her if we get in a bind,” Norman told Good Morning America. “Not only was she OK with it, she was so excited to hold the baby. She held her for at least an hour.”
Without the help of those around her, Lewis’s mission to obtain a degree would have been exponentially harder. Dr. George reminds us that we do not have to do anything alone. When presented with the opportunity to support someone who needs it, be like Dr. George.
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