We might be biased, but moms are fierce rock stars. And Grace Szymchack, a Ferris State University graduate and postpartum mom, just proves our point.

Szymchack, 24, recently received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (magna cum laude no less!) from the Michigan school–and she did so with her 10-day-old daughter, Annabelle, tucked safely in her graduation robe. 

“Annabelle decided to come early on Dec. 6,” Szymchack, now a mother of two, told Ferris State University Press. “But I’d worked hard for this degree, and I was determined to walk with the rest of my class … so I just brought her to graduation with me.” Her graduation day was the day her C-section was originally scheduled. “I hope it inspires another mom,” she said in an interview. The baby didn’t fuss once during the ceremony, she added.

In addition to being a mother, Szymchack also tackled classes, work, and marriage during her six years of college education–some of which fell during the challenges of the COVID pandemic. 

She’s far from alone in pursuing her education during parenthood. According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), of the 20 million college students across the United States, 4.3 million of them were raising at least one child during the 2019-2020 academic year. This is no small feat, considering parent students are often faced with less time to study. In fact, according to a 2018 study, student parents only had 10 hours in their day for academics, compared to the 21 hours for students without children, a phenomenon that has been identified as “time poverty.”

This hasn’t been the only time though that student parents have dominated not only their education but also motherhood. These moms took on advanced degrees, ranging from bachelor’s to law degrees–all with young children in tow.

Szymchack shows that parenting doesn’t have to detract from your personal goals, as she waltzes across that stage.