ATLANTA — It’s not the first time it’s happened. Nor will it be the last.
But it’s a viral moment that speaks to so many things: lack of childcare. The drive to seek an education. And compassion from others.
With midterms looming, Wayne Hayer didn’t want to miss his algebra class Friday at Morehouse College in Atlanta and couldn’t find childcare for his five-month-old daughter. It was an important class, since they were reviewing content for the upcoming midterms.
So he brought her along.
After Hayer explained his situation, Professor Nathan Alexander offered to hold little Assata and taught the rest of the class with the baby strapped to his chest.
Students in the class began posting images on social media showing the professor carrying the little girl. And a viral moment was born.
“My professor NATHAN ALEXANDER said ‘I’ll hold her so you can take good notes!'” one student said on Twitter. His post has been retweeted more than 70,000 times.
“It was this encounter that truly showed me the power and impact HBCU’s can have for the black community, for this professor to understand that life happens and sometimes there are just no ways around it,” another student posted on Facebook, using an acronym for historically black colleges and universities such as Morehouse.
The photos even reached Morehouse College President David Thomas, who tweeted, “This is about #love and #commitment. Loving our students and being committed to removing any barrier to their pursuit of excellence”
Professor: The girl ‘was really behaved’
It was the perfect storm of events that day for Hayer, 26. His wife, Firda, had errands to run, he had his class to attend and they couldn’t find a babysitter in time.
So Hayer threw his backpack on, strapped Assata into her carrier and the two adventured off to college.
“I was nervous to go to class,” Hayer, a senior majoring in kinesiology, told CNN. “Morehouse is an all-male college and seeing me with a baby strapped to me would make all eyes be on me.”
Hayer’s first class was canceled, so he and his daughter hung out in the student lounge while he did his coursework. His next class is when the viral moment happened.
Alexander told CNN that “part of my role and goal as educator is to provide opportunities for students. We work to build a community in class.”
Although Alexander is the one in the photo, he said the episode really shows the hard work that Hayer puts in every day.
“He works two jobs, is a full time student, is involved in leadership programs at school and is a parent,” the professor said. “This photo serves as a reminder of what parents have to do every day and how important it is to have affordable childcare.”
On top of it all, baby Assata was the perfect student and didn’t distract from the day’s lesson.
“She was really behaved and even started to fall asleep at the end,” said Alexander. “We had a bottle ready on standby, if needed. We enjoyed having her energy in class.”