Nathan Alexander is a professor of mathematics at Morehouse College. He's spent years instilling knowledge and leadership skills in his students, and now he's teaching the world a lesson about supporting new parents.
On Friday one of Alexander's students, senior Wayne Hayer, found himself walking into class with his baby girl strapped to his chest after a childcare crunch left him with no choice but to bring his baby girl to class or miss class.
Alexander offered a super simple solution to the new dad: "I'll hold her so you can take good notes."
Hayer strapped his baby carrier onto his professor. Another student snapped and tweeted a photo of Alexander teaching while wearing 5-month-old Asada and the story has gone viral.
As the Washington Post reports, 26-year-old Hayer was having a crazy day on Friday. His wife usually has Asada while he's in class, but on Friday Hayer had to bring Asada with him to school. He was stressed, but he remembered a conversation he'd had with Alexander, who once told him that if childcare was ever an issue he could just bring Asada.
"I was apprehensive about it," he told the Washington Post, noting that he'd never seen another student bring a baby to class (Morehouse is a historically black all men's college). But with an exam coming up he needed to be at that lecture, so he walked into his math class.
"I had a book bag on and a baby strapped to my chest. I looked crazy," he says. "Then Dr. Alexander saw me and welcomed me with open arms."
At first, Asada sat with her dad, but when it seemed like that was distracting Hayer, Alexander suggested he hold her for the rest of class. Hayer strapped his teacher into the carrier, and Asada hung out with Alexander, enjoying the classroom view and learning about some pretty advanced math concepts for a 5-month-old.
The internet is hailing Dr. Alexander a hero, and we have to agree.
"There's an idea of what a student is and we don't think about ways to support parents that are students. That's where I come in," he told The Post. "Community matters. I want a world where Wayne doesn't feel like he can't get ready for his exam even though his child care fell through."
Alexander is right. Post-secondary education and the workplace were not built for parents. But we can change that by building the kind of communities that don't force parents to pretend they don't have this other responsibility in their lives.
Wayne Hayer (like a lot of millennial men) is a committed partner and father. And Dr. Alexander is a great professor who is helping him be that great dad while also being a student.