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Mama Did It! University of St. Thomas Nursing Graduates Muse on the Challenges of Becoming Mothers While Earning Their BSNs

Meet University of St. Thomas-Houston nursing students Lindsey SlatenGuadalupe Rodriguez Hernandez, and Reyna Suastes. All three will graduate with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees from the Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing on Saturday, May 13, at 4 p.m. in Toyota Center downtown. All three are also new moms!

Lindsey Slater with new babyMeet Lindsey Slaten

Giving birth in the middle of a nursing program is not a "walk in the park," says non-traditional nursing student Lindsey Slaten, but she knows that nursing school has also taught her "so much about being a mom."

"Being a mom in a rigorous academic program requires intense drive and a practiced discipline in studying,” Slaten said. “I've never taken the easy route anyway, so it comes as little surprise that I enrolled as a non-traditional student completing many of my courses while raising three children at home (including three-year-old twin girls). Just as I established a study routine, along came my fourth child, Elise Grace, who was born during my Critical Care semester.

"Elise was born the day after I finished my clinical site hours and she arrived weighing in at a mere 3.5 pounds," Slaten said. "She spent 21 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to gain weight and get her temperature stable, all while I studied and prepared for my final exams right next to her NICU crib. She was discharged the day I took my last final, because God is way better at planning than I am."

As a registered Yoga teacher, Slaten says, “I have always aligned with caring for patients in a mindful, compassionate way, rather than just focusing on an illness.  University of St Thomas’ Peavy School of Nursing resonated with me, as the program and its faculty are centered on practicing holistic, whole-minded care, not just in nursing but also the way the faculty uplifts and support their students, which I experienced firsthand during the arrival of my daughter.”

Slaten accepted an offer for her dream job, an emergency room nurse at her local Level 2 trauma hospital.

Guadalupe Rodriguez Hernandez with baby Meet Guadalupe Rodriguez Hernandez

For Guadalupe Rodriguez Hernandez, the biggest struggle of becoming a mom in nursing school was the mom guilt.

"I felt like I was missing my son's special moments or I wasn't there enough, she said. “I was always on campus, at clinical, working, or studying. Even though I made time to dedicate to my son, it always felt like it was not enough. I constantly reminded myself of why I joined the program and why it was now more important than ever. I was following my dreams, but once I became a mom, it was about securing a future for my son."

This last semester, Hernandez missed the first day of class because she and her son were in the hospital. After many appointments and falling behind in her classwork, her son was diagnosed with a speech delay.

“Nursing school has taught me to be patient in my role as a mom and to be hopeful," she said. "It is amazing seeing patients' progress and then going home and seeing my son's progress."

First-generation student Hernandez says a degree in nursing will change her life.

“This degree will open doors for me and my family," she said.

Hernandez also notes that UST's nursing school brought her closer to her faith.

"I am thankful I chose UST," she said. "I never imagined that I would become a mom in nursing school, but it worked out. I received all the support I needed from the nursing school and Celts for Life."

Hernandez has accepted a position at Children's Memorial Hermann as a Mother-Baby Nurse.

Reyna Suastes with babyMeet Reyna Suastes

About the arrival of her first baby, Reyna Suastes said, “I was clueless about being a mom. Mom's guilt kicked in every day on my drive to school, and I had to pull myself together before I got out of my car. I knew my baby was safe, but I had difficulty accepting being that far from him. After school, he would help me forget about the daily struggle.”

For Suastes, "Nursing school taught me how passionate a mother can be—the countless hours of studying, labs, clinicians, etc., had me exhausted,” she said. “However, I would always show up for him. We played and laughed until his little eyes got tired at night, and I never get tired of making his day."

Suastes thanks God for placing her in UST’s nursing program.

"God's timing is perfect," she said. "I felt welcomed at UST as soon as I showed up for the tour. The fantastic resources, scholarships and people in the community assured me of my decision to become a Celt.”

Suastes has accepted a job working in a hospital NICU.