Professor holds student's newborn so she could take notes in class: 'Family, village, community'

When a student and single mother was unable to find childcare for her newborn, she was torn whether she should return to school following her pregnancy. However, when she attended her first class back on campus Tuesday, her worries subsided when her film professor held her three-week-old son so she could take notes during his lecture.

Ebony Greenfield, who is pursuing her master's degree in professional digital media Technology at Texas Southern University (TSU), had planned her school schedule around her pregnancy. While taking care of her older son, Colton, who is in pre-kindergarten, Greenfield expected to spend most of her pregnancy attending lectures and finishing midterms. As she rested for six weeks toward the end of her pregnancy, she planned to use the time to prepare for her finals.

However, circumstances changed when Greenfield was in an accident when she was just 20 weeks along.

"I started to have contractions at that point and the doctors wanted me to give birth," Greenfield tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "I prayed about it and I didn’t have him then."

Instead, Greenfield remained on bed rest until her son, Carter, was born at 33 weeks. Despite Carter experiencing respiratory issues at birth due to being premature, Greenfield was grateful his NICU experience wasn't long and he was able to come home.

Since Carter was born early, Greenfield was forced to decide between missing school or finding an alternative option.

"I didn’t want him to be a distraction [to the class and teachers] but I was desperate for the information I was missing," Greenfield says.

Ultimately, she decided to return to TSU. To her relief, her professor, Dr. Tyrone Dixon, seemed unphased by the addition of a newborn to his classroom.

"[Dixon] welcomed me back to class and continued to teach," Greenfield says, adding that he didn’t raise any concern about Carter being with her.

As the class discussion started, Greenfield struggled to hold Carter and take notes.

"I really just wanted to ask as many questions as I could and take as many notes as possible to do my assignment, and Carter was too wiggly for me to do and that’s when [Dixon asked to hold him,]" Greenfield says. "I felt relieved and shocked at the same time. A big burden was removed from me."

Dixon, a producer and director who holds a PhD in media psychology, was surprised to see Greenfield return to his class so soon. As a father of four and a grandfather to a 5-month-old girl, he was inspired by the single mom, sitting in the front of his class and leading the discussion while caring for her newborn.

As the son of a single mother who gave birth to Dixon the day after she turned 18, he is a product of a strong and determined parent.

"I understand that space so well," Dixon tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that Ebony is a great student that shares some of those qualities of his own mother, describing her as "dedicated, motivated and fearless."

As for offering to hold Carter so Ebony could fully engage in the class discussion and be free to take notes, this wasn't an unusual act for Dixon.

"[It wasn't] my first time holding a baby in class at TSU or having kids in my class. I embrace it," Dixon says. "Family, village, community. I had no idea that a simple moment would or could inspire so many. [It was] God's plan."

The seemingly simple moment to Dixon means much more to Greenfield.

"As a student, it means there is help. As a single mom, it means there is hope that everything will be okay," Greenfield says. "It means when life seems impossible, God will open up the universe to you to give you possibilities that you would never believe possible if you just try to do the right thing in life."

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