People horrified after queer woman defends her doctoral dissertation hours after giving birth

A woman at Rutgers defended her dissertation after giving birth. (Tamiah Brevard-Rodriquez/Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University)

People are horrified after learning that a woman defended her dissertation at Rutgers just hours after giving birth.

Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez was about to present her doctoral dissertation presentation at Rutgers University, New Jersey when she went into labour one month early in March this year. 

Tamiah ended up delivering her son in the front seat of her wife Alyza Brevard Rodriguez’s car whilst on the way to the hospital. 

“My wife’s nickname is Danica [Patrick, the former race car driver] because she drives fast. She’s going like 120 mph and didn’t get a chance to pull over,” she told Rutgers Today. “In three pushes, he was in my arms.”

The same day, Tamiah was due to deliver her dissertation defence — a presentation where a university student demonstrates knowledge of their work and field of study —  on beauty standards which Black university women face on a historically white campus.

Onlookers have recently responded to the news after the university congratulated its student in May.

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Gender equity researcher Arghavan Salles said that allowing Tamiah to deliver the presentation just hours after giving birth fosters “a toxic culture that is unkind, unwelcoming and perhaps even hostile to women”.

Salles shared a picture of the couple in the hospital in an Instagram reel, alleging that Tamiah was concerned “she might not be allowed to graduate on time” if she was unable to deliver the presentation on time.

“She notified the mentor, and this was the mentor’s response. ‘He didn’t want anyone to give her sympathy, so he kept quiet,’ she claimed. “Meaning, he didn’t tell anyone else on her committee that she had just given birth.”

In the comments, many social media users were outraged. One wrote: “Honestly a good mentor would have told her not to worry about it and handled rescheduling on her behalf. 

“I’m not sure how far he could have pushed for her rescheduling, but I feel like at least one week wouldn’t have pushed her off graduation on time.”

Meanwhile, beneath the university’s celebratory post on X, others added: “WHY??? wouldn’t you reschedule? She shouldn’t have had to do this.”

“THIS IS NOT A FLEX,” echoed a second.

“It’s not something the university should be proud of… Shame on you,” said a third.

Although the university outlet claimed that Tamiah’s mentor James Whitney III was communicating with her wife Alyza to postpone the presentation, Tamiah “told her wife not to reschedule”.

Tamiah also added that she opted not to share the news on the call until after her defense was delivered “to make sure the committee wasn’t swayed by what she’d just been through,” the university outlet said.

PinkNews has contacted a representative of Rutgers University for a comment on the matter.

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