Rutgers PhD Student

Rutgers PhD Student To Celebrate Newborn And Graduation On Mother’s Day

The Rutgers University double alumna defended her dissertation back in March just seven hours after she gave birth to her second son.

Rutgers director Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez will celebrate a remarkable double milestone this Sunday – her first Mother’s Day with her second son and graduation from her doctoral program.

The new mom welcomed Baby Enzo unexpectedly on the very day she was scheduled to defend her dissertation back in March. As WAPT reported, Enzo’s arrival a month before his due date disrupted what Brevard-Rodriguez had dubbed “Operation Dissertation Before Baby.” Her original plan was to defend her dissertation prior to giving birth. However, an unexpected turn of events unfolded when her water broke at 2:15 a.m. that Monday morning.

“I was physically prepared for a pregnancy. Mentally, my brain was not on a baby. So I was having a very emotional response to knowing that I was in labor, knowing that I had this defense like I was literally shaking,” Brevard-Rodriguez said.

Rutgers University, where Brevard-Rodriguez serves as director of the Aresty undergraduate research center, spotlighted this extraordinary occasion. En route to the hospital, Brevard-Rodriguez delivered her son in the front seat of her wife’s Maserati. “She’s going like 120 mph and didn’t get a chance to pull over. In three pushes, he was in my arms,” she said. “I was telling her, OK, now you have to slow down. It’s done. The baby is here. He’s fine. He’s breathing. But it was, ‘Oh my God, you just had this baby in the car!’”

The 5-pound, 12-ounce, 19-inch infant was in perfect health despite being born four weeks early.

After leaving the hospital, the Rutgers PhD candidate proceeded with her scheduled dissertation defense at 1 p.m. “My doula said it would be such a bad-ass move. You just had your baby and will do the dissertation at the same time. And I thought, yeah, I think I got it,” she said. “I told my wife go get me some clothes, my laptop and bring the charger.”

Logging onto Zoom, she presented her dissertation to Rutgers staff and faculty on the standards Black college women face on historically white campuses. “There’s a lot of nitpicking of Black girls and their bodies,” she told the university. “In my study, a lot of Black girls said, ‘I cannot go to school in pajamas though I see my other peers go to school in pajamas or in sweatshirts and baggy clothes.’ They always have to be presentable because, for them being presentable equates to them being capable.”

Brevard-Rodriguez kept her delivery a secret until after her successful defense, to ensure the committee’s impartiality. She earned her bachelor’s from Rutgers and a master’s from NYU. Her PhD now makes her a double Rutgers alumna.

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