Rutgers University doctoral student gives birth on same day she defends dissertation

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Mother gives birth, defends PhD dissertation on same day
Anthony Johnson speaks with the mother who gave birth and defended her doctorial dissertation on the same day.

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey -- This Mother's Day will be especially poignant for a New Jersey woman who will not only celebrate being a mom, but also becoming a doctor.

Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez was working on her doctoral dissertation presentation from Rutgers University when she went into labor on March 25.

She was only eight months pregnant and was scheduled to deliver her dissertation defense that day.

"I was physically prepared for a pregnancy, mentally my brain was not on a baby," she said. "So I was having a very emotional response to knowing I was in labor, knowing I had this defense. I was literally shaking."

She had everything planned out with staff and faculty at Rutgers to examine standards Black women face on historically white college campuses.

But things went off schedule when her water broke. Brevard-Rodriguez's wife rushed to their car after their doula told them to get moving as contractions increased.

The drive to the hospital was a race against time.

"The doula is trying to tell me don't grunt him out, just breathe and I'm like 'this baby is coming,'" Brevard-Rodriguez said.

At that point, her wife, Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, said she was probably driving 120 mph on the highway.

"I had three pushes, so the first one was baby's head was crowning, second push he was out, third one we were just there," Brevard-Rodriguez said.

Once at the hospital, baby Enzo was checked out and all was well.

But since Tamiah was well-rehearsed for the dissertation, she delivered her defense about seven hours after Enzo came into the world.

"I was like, I think I could do it. I was prepared for it, what did I do, some final touches on it and I did the study," she said.

She said all she needed was a nap, a shower and to regroup.

No one knew about the delivery until after the successful defense was complete.

Brevard-Rodriguez will graduate on Sunday, which is also Mother's Day.