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Thursday, July 18, 2024

37-year-old American journalist bags masters degree at US university while caring for her toddler, celebrates achievement

37-year-old American Journalist, Natasha Alford has bagged a master’s degree with honors at Princeton University in the United States while caring for her 3-year-old son.

Natasha took a part-time sabbatical leave from her job as a journalist at TheGrio and went back to school for a master’s degree. She juggled work and life at home with her toddler son and fiance while studying at Princeton University.

In addition to her busy schedule, Natasha told GMA she was also completing a memoir, “American Negra,” which explores the intersectionality of race and culture as an Afro-Latina woman and was also dealing with lupus, a long-term autoimmune disease.

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“I didn’t anticipate that all these things would be happening in the same year. But … I was doing the finishing touches for the book, doing TV as a journalist, doing school [and] being a mom,” she said.

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Natasha graduated from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs with a master’s degree in Public policy and a certificate in urban policy.

She made her commencement a memorable one by walking the stage of her hooding ceremony with her three-year-old son, Julian. Julian not only joined her on stage but he gave his mother her master’s hood, a moment caught on camera and was shared on TikTok by Natasha.

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“That moment, when he hooded me on stage, was so emotional because I’d been carrying all that anxiety of like, ‘Will I be able to get everything done? Will I cross this finish line?’ And so in that moment, I was finally crossing the finish line,” Natasha said.


Natasha said she shared the moment on social media because she wanted others to see that working-class mothers are capable of more than others’ stereotypes and preconceived notions.

“I wanted people to see that mothers and sons – we have a special relationship, But also mothers can be high achievers. They can have goals outside of the home, outside of motherhood and there’s room for all of that,” she said.

She expressed deep gratitude and relief as she walked at commencement noting that despite facing challenges, she finally achieved her longtime goal of earning a master’s degree in public policy, having put it on hold for over 10 years due to financial struggles.

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“It was just perfect timing for me to pursue the policy degree and I actually finished writing the book at Princeton, so it made it that much more meaningful. And now I have this degree that really is about service to the nation and so I intend to do that with my work as a journalist and also just in the community in general,” she said.

Natasha attributes all of her accomplishments to her village, including her fiancé and her parents. “All the people that love me kind of rallied around me and just reminded me that this is a short-term sacrifice and all you need to do sometimes is put one foot in front of the other,” she said.

 She said she hopes her son, can look back one day and be inspired and know that dreams can be achieved. “For him, I hope he never forgets it.I hope that one day I’ll be able to be at his hooding ceremony and watch him get hooded,” Natasha said. 

”And just for him to remember that it’s normal for us to go to school and to pursue our dreams and also to work hard and make sacrifices because that makes the victory that much more worth it when you cross the finish line,” she added.

Natasha encourages other parents who might be considering going back to school or pursuing something new to go for it especially women urging them not to allow their children to be in the way of their dreams.

“Sometimes we’re made to feel as women that when you have a child, your life is over. But in many ways my life began when I had my son, like he motivated me to reach my dreams,” she said.

“I hope all the moms and all the parents, whether you’re a father or whatever your situation is, you just know that it’s possible. It’s OK to still dream as a parent,” she said

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