Mom speaks out after bringing 10-day-old baby to graduation

Grace Szymchack was determined to walk at her graduation ceremony.

December 20, 2023, 5:02 PM

One college student received an early graduation present when she gave birth to her daughter a week before she was supposed to receive her diploma.

Grace Szymchack had planned to attend her Dec. 15 commencement at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, and then undergo a cesarean section on Dec. 18. But daughter Annabelle decided to make an early arrival.

“The doctor made it sound like she didn't think I was going to make it to the 18th so we were just hoping that she'd come either early enough that I could still walk right after graduation,” Szymchack told “GMA3” on Wednesday.

Szymchack gave birth to Annabelle on Dec. 6 and then 10 days later, the Traverse City mom decided to bring her youngest child with her to the big day, tucking baby Annabelle inside her graduation gown.

Grace Szymchack brought her 10-day-old daughter Annabelle with her to her Ferris State University graduation ceremony on Dec. 15, 2023.
Courtesy Ferris State University

“It was just important for me to walk because I've been working on this degree for a long time,” Szymchack explained. “And with lots of support from my husband and family, I was just determined to actually walk and I just wasn't ready to leave [Annabelle] with anyone yet.”

Szymchack, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, said Annabelle took the entire event in stride.

“She was really chill. She slept the whole time. No fussing or anything,” she said.

Szymchack said she hopes her story can inspire other parents, especially moms, who may also want to receive their college degree.

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“I teach in a state-funded program and I just hope it inspires other moms ... to go back and finish the degree that they want or to start the degree that they have been hoping for,” she said.

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