South Carolina Professor Supports Young Mom by Making Her Infant Part of Class

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A South Carolina college professor wanted to make sure one dedicated student about to become a new mom could continue her education, so she ensured her the newborn could become a part of her college experience.

Josie Ryan, an associate professor of mathematics, told student Sarah Thompson she could bring her son Isaiah to their Analysis I class any time. Thompson was so inspired by her teacher’s show of support she shared the story in a Facebook post.

Thompson is an applied mathematics and computer science major at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina, who hopes to graduate at the end of this academic year. She completed the last two academic sessions while working and pregnant, and her professor understood things wouldn’t get easier once the baby came, she wrote.

“She knew I’d be overwhelmed so literally begged me to bring Isaiah to class [and] even showed me where the breastfeeding room in the health center was at Lander University,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson said she started Ryan’s class one week before giving birth to her son in August, and she returned to class just one week after. The first time she brought Isaiah to class, Ryan taught with him in her arms the whole time, she said.

“It’s so reassuring to know there are professors out there like this,” she wrote. “Not only is she an amazing person, she’s also one of the best math professors I’ve ever had.”

The young mom described Ryan as “brilliant,” “wacky” and “the best kind of nerdy,” saying the world needs more educators like her.

This isn’t the first time Ryan has gone above and beyond for her students, according to the university; last year she inspired other professors at the school when she introduced what she calls “dinner with Dr. Ryan” to facilitate discussion with students.

Now, baby Isaiah has become somewhat of a regular in Analysis I and is “an angel every time,” according to Thompson.

“He’ll cut the cheese [and] make the class giggle from time to time but we still get down to some serious math in there. I am in a perfect world when I am learning math in college with my baby right next to me […] or in my teachers arms,” she wrote.

In the picture she shared on Facebook Isaiah was three weeks old, Thompson said.

The post, shared on Oct. 14, now has nearly 7,000 likes and more than 1,000 shares. Thompson said she hopes by sharing her experience she will encourage other working and student moms to as for help.

Her boyfriend also does double duty with work and school, so the couple relies on support from family and friends, she said.

“It’s hard,” she said, “but with support like this, how can I lose if I trust God [and] believe in myself?”