Diapers and diplomas: How NMSU students balance motherhood with academia


Zack Jimenez

Zeylah Galindo, a student at NMSU, poses with her baby bump. Galindo is due to give birth next month.

College can be a very stressful time in one’s life. Students spend countless hours studying for exams, participating in extracurricular activities and maintaining a social life, and for some, preparing to raise a child. Yes, although in a minority, several NMSU students must balance either preparing to be a parent or already have children while still attending school. 

Zeylah Galindo, a senior studying Spanish at New Mexico State University is expected to give birth to her daughter, Olivia, in March of this year. She sat down with The Round Up to tell her story about discovering the unexpected.

“I found out I was pregnant over the summer,” Galindo said. “We registered for classes back in April, so there was nothing I could do to change my classes this past fall.”

Galindo knew it was going to be hard, but not impossible. She faced severe morning sickness and nausea in her first trimester which is considered to be the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy.

“I would have to leave classes because I would get hot flashes or felt like throwing up,” Galindo said.

She said that she didn’t want to eat, because how upset her stomach would get but knew she had to. Most of her classes were in person and that required a lot of walking around the NMSU campus. Which included a lot of stares on her way to classes.

“I would just prefer for people to ask me rather than just stare at me wondering,” Galindo said.

Galindo added that she didn’t receive a very positive response when she spoke to her academic advisors at the university. Her advisor suggested she register for mainly online courses in the spring semester to ease the stress of giving birth and caring for her child.

“I felt like they didn’t care,” Galindo stated. “They kind of expected me to not continue with my studies.”

She wasn’t given any information on resources she could possibly use to help her finish her college degree. She felt discouraged but is still continuing to work on getting her bachelors in Spanish.

Tatiana Williams, a senior studying counseling and community psychology, wants to tell other future mothers that school is still possible after giving birth. Her 3-year-old son, Malachi is her motivation to keep going. Williams didn’t find out she was pregnant until after she graduated high school in 2014. She gave birth to Malachi on June 23, 2014, prior to beginning her freshman year at NMSU.

“I was already set on attending New Mexico State,” Williams said.

Tatiana Williams, a mother of a three-year-old son, encourages expectant moms to not lose focus.

Malachi’s father is not in the picture and left after Williams discovered she was pregnant. William’s mother ended up moving to NMSU to help support her through the transition. They relocated from Tucson, Ariz. to the family housing located in Cervantes Village which is in the southern portion of campus at NMSU.

“It was hard downsizing into an apartment from living in a house,” Williams said.

Fortunately, NMSU offers a program for childcare called Myrna’s Children’s Village. The Round Up sat down with Berta Carela, the Director of the Children’s Village and Christina Ruybal, the Assistant Director of the Children’s Village to discuss the programs they offer to the NMSU community. 

Some of the programs they offer are an Early Head Start program which is a free, federally funded, community-based program for low-income families with infants and toddlers through 3 years of age and pregnant women. They also have three physical classrooms which are called NMSU School for Young Children. The NMSU School for Young Children serves children ages 2-5 from students, faculty and staff families in three classrooms. The “Turtle Classroom” is a full day, full year program serving 2 to 3 1/2-year-olds, the “Bobcats Classroom” is a full day, full year program serving 3 1/2 to 5-year-olds, and the “Roadrunner Classroom” is a half day, academic year state-funded Pre-K classroom for eligible 4 year olds. The childcare is from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Pre-K is split into two sessions and range from 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in the morning and the afternoon session is from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“The NMSU School for Young Children are a tuition-based program based on the family’s income,” Carela said.

“It’s very much a sliding scale which can range from paying $255 to $690 a month to have their children cared for,” Ruybal added.

Myrna’s Children’s Village shouldn’t be seen as just a childcare center, but a learning center for “future Aggies.”

“Everything we do is family and children based learning,” Carela said. “Children are seen as the co-creator and we are their partners in crime,”

Ruybal and Carela did explain that in order to get students into the program they have to apply to be in it and the wait list is approximately two years.

“We encourage families to apply early so the wait can be diminished,” Carela stated.

Williams was fortunate enough to get her son into the Early Head Start program when he was just six months old. This has allowed her to continue pursuing her degree while providing for her son. Williams was an Aggie Orientation Leader in 2015 and 2016 and is currently a Resident Advisor for Cervantes Village.

“I’ve been able to gain leadership experiences with the opportunities I have received,” Williams said. 

Williams jokes about how she does very well on a very slim number of hours of sleep. She waits until her son is asleep to do her homework and encourages moms who are going to school to power though.

“It may seem impossible,” Williams said. “Use your resources and keep going.”

Galindo also added that you have to be the one to make the change.

“Sometimes you won’t get the support you need,” Galindo said. “Don’t give up. Use your baby as motivation for a better life.”

Do you know any other expectant pregnant NMSU students? If so, The Round Up would like to feature them in an upcoming story or podcast. E-mail [email protected] or call (575) 646-3743. 
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