Young Mom to Graduate College With Help from Campus Program

(Oregon Right to Life) — A young mother in North Dakota is set to graduate college with the help of a newly founded on-campus organization designed to support new moms and help them achieve their academic goals while raising their young children.

Katie Chihoski, a student at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, became unexpectedly pregnant while in her sophomore year of college, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported. With the support of her peers, she decided to continue her studies, temporarily moving home and studying online before returning to campus.

In January of 2023, the university began the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Community for Mothers, a program designed to provide tangible support for students who are pregnant or raising small children while pursuing higher education, the outlet reported. Through the program, young mothers receive housing for themselves and their child, babysitting resources, and community with fellow moms.

The program has provided ample support and encouragement to Chihoski and her now-18-month-old daughter, Lucia. 

“Coming to school, I expected to be seen as different, and somewhat outcast from the typical college life,” she told CNA. “I think it was difficult to get used to my tag-along when going to events on campus, but Lucia makes the world twice as much fun.” She said that little Lucia has been going with her to campus events since she was just four months old, making the toddler a favorite on campus and “the most social baby you will ever meet!”

“Katie and Lucia are beloved on campus,” Reed Ruggles, vice president of student development for the college and supervisor of the school’s program for single moms, said in comments to CNA. “To see [Lucia] take her first steps, say her first words, and grow from carrier to highchair… has been a gift to all of us,” he said.

“Attending school with my daughter, Lucia, has been the most amazing thing to witness,” the optimistic young mom and soon-to-be college grad told CNA. “Children bring out the joy in people and offer a fuller sense of purpose.”

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This year, Chihoski is on track to be the first student supported by the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Community for Mothers program to obtain her degree. According to CNA, she plans to participate in the graduation ceremony with Lucia in tow – and the toddler will even be wearing a miniature cap and gown.

Katie Chihoski bravely chose life for Lucia and brought joy and hope to her campus. Sadly, not every student who becomes pregnant in college makes the same choice.

Many young women are made to feel that an unexpected pregnancy is a disaster, something that will necessarily place stringent limits on their lives and even put an end to their ambitions. Abortion is presented as a way to start over and eliminate the complications presented by the unborn life.

In 2005, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reported that 38% of women surveyed about why they sought abortion said they felt that having a child would negatively impact their education.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Stories like Chihoski’s prove that it’s possible to both choose life for your child and complete your academic goals.

And Chihoski is far from alone. Stories abound of courageous young women who experience unplanned pregnancies while pursuing their education but refuse to be frightened into abortion.

Just last year, Michigan student Grace Szymchack made headlines when she received her bachelor’s degree with her 10-day-old baby snuggled comfortably beneath her graduation gown. And in 2018, a 24-year-old single mom graduated from Harvard Law School with her one-year-old daughter in her arms.

In her comments to CNA, Chihoski shared words of encouragement for other young women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

“Whether you’re living by yourself, with family, or are going to school, there is a community out there waiting to help,” she told the outlet. 

“You just have to ask,” she said.

Oregon Right to Life believes in the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Abortion ends the life of a genetically distinct, growing human being. We oppose abortion at any point of gestation. Read this and all of our position statements here.


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