Students can spend months upon months studying, but after all that hard work, their futures are often defined by just a small number of tests. And for young Tommitrise Collins, her academic hopes also collided with her dreams of motherhood, as she fell into labor ahead of an online college psychology test. Despite the circumstances, however, she still sat the exam, which in turn prompted her professor to make an astonishing decision.
Prior to her studies at Middle Georgia State University, Collins was a basketball player at Oklahoma State University. However, an injury to her ACL forced the young sports star to subsequently quit the game. That didn’t end her college aspirations, though, and the then-21-year-old moved back home to Macon, Georgia, to become a psychology student.
Already boasting an associates degree in criminal justice, Collins was looking to graduate at the end of 2016 with the same major. Yet while her academic future seemed to be mapped out, the Macon native nonetheless faced an unexpected quandary on November 12, 2015. And it all started when she went into labor.
Although the baby wasn’t due for another five days, Collins’ waters broke in the early hours of the morning. She was consequently taken to the local Coliseum Medical Center, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Because at 8:00 a.m. that day, the expectant mother was set to take an online psychology test for her degree.
Knowing that she had no option other than to sit the exam at that time, Collins had an incredibly tough choice to make. “I didn’t want to give an excuse,” she later told People. “I made sure I just went ahead and did what I had to do, I handled my responsibilities.”
“I didn’t want to get behind in my work,” Collins continued. “I emailed my teacher to tell her that I was having contractions and that I was in labor and that I’m still going to take the test. It was my decision, she didn’t make me do anything.”
Just 12 hours after she went into labor, then, Collins took to a laptop and started the online test from her hospital bed. And remarkably, the student hadn’t even been given any painkillers at that point. “It took me four to five hours after the opening of the test to try to put the pain to the side and do it, so I wouldn’t have to do it later and I could enjoy my newborn,” the student told FOX5 News.
“If I’m sitting up, and I’m talking to people – even if I’m in pain, I’m talking to people between my contractions – why can’t I just take my test?” she added. In fact, despite all the obstacles in her way, Collins somehow completed the two-hour test in just 90 minutes. And with the exam complete, she could fully focus on delivering her baby.
Following a 20-hour labor, then, Collins gave birth to a baby girl at 9:19 p.m., naming her Tyler Elise. Unbeknownst to the new mother, however, her sister Shanell Chapman had taken a picture of Collins earlier in the day when she was taking her test. And Chapman, brimming with pride, subsequently posted the image on Facebook.
“This is what you call ‘Strong Priorities,’” Chapman wrote alongside the image. “Contractions three minutes apart and still takes her Psychology Test! You are going to be a great mom baby sis!”
“I didn’t know that she took the picture until after I gave birth,” Collins told People. “I finally looked on my phone and saw that people were ‘liking’ something and that [Shanell] tagged me in something. [Shanell] didn’t know it was going to make this big of a deal, but we see where it got us.”
Unsurprisingly, the picture then went viral, with Collins’ dedication to her education clear for all to see. And despite the pain that she had to endure while taking the test, the student still scored an impressive 76 on it. Soon afterwards, though, the situation took another unexpected turn.
You see, among those who’d viewed Chapman’s picture on social media was Collins’ psychology professor. And after seeing the lengths to which her student had gone to complete the test, the tutor decided that Collins deserved a reward.
“I would like to let you know I used some of your extra credit to bump up your grade,” was the message that Collins received from her professor, according to the student’s interview with FOX5 News. “And I said, ‘Thank you,’” Collins added. “That’s all I wanted was a B.” Incredibly, then, despite the difficulties her pregnancy had posed, Collins was able to maintain her 3.6 Grade Point Average throughout the duration of the gestation period.
Following Tyler’s birth, Collins reflected on the joy of motherhood before saying that she wouldn’t put her own goals on hold as a result. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Collins told People. “All of those quotes that you always hear about it, they’re true.”
“I love it,” Collins continued. “Sometimes I just sit down and look at [Tyler] like, ‘Wow, I really have a child now.’ She is my life now, and the way I look at it is, she will always have me to depend on, so my goals will not be put on hold.”
“I don’t want to just barely make it by,” she added. “I want my child to live comfortably. And I want to show people that just because I am considered a young mother doesn’t mean I have to be considered a bad mother.”
Happily, then, after all that work at Middle Georgia State University, Collins eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Her next ambition was to find employment within the forensic science field, and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department has since offered her a post.
However, Collins’ most important job is now a little closer to home. Yes, while there’s no doubt that her academic achievements are impressive, her first priority is looking to do the best that she can for her two-year-old daughter.
Just over two years ago, Tommitrise Collins faced an almost impossible choice: would she sacrifice what she worked for at college to become a mother? Thankfully for Collins and her daughter, she didn’t have to. And with a little help from her tutor, the proud mom is on the way to creating a comfortable future for her child.