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Unstoppable! New mom explains why she took a college exam during labor

"I hope I showed people that you don't have to stop achieving your goals just because you end up pregnant. She's a blessing to me."
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Tyler Collins was born just over a week ago and, already, the baby girl has some pretty big shoes to fill. Tyler’s mom, Tommitrise Collins, completed a college exam while laboring in her hospital bed — and is being praised for her determination and focus after a photo posted to Facebook by her sister went viral.

Collins is studying forensics, working her way through the criminal justice program at Middle Georgia State University. Since Tyler was her first baby and her due date was still several days away, Collins says she was shocked when her water broke the night before the big exam.

“Before I took the test, I emailed my teacher and told her, ‘I’m in labor right now and I just wanted to let you know in case I get a bad grade,’” Collins told TODAY Parents. “I just didn’t want to make up an excuse for not taking it, but I also wanted to keep my GPA up.”

Collins' sister posted this image on Facebook, which shows the young student laboring while completing an online psychology test. The image quickly went viral.Tommitrise Collins

The 21-year-old, who lives in Macon, Georgia, was in labor for twelve hours when she started the two-hour, online exam. She finished in just ninety minutes, and scored 76 percent — a grade she was not satisfied with. Collins emailed her teacher a second time, asking if there was a way to retake the exam at a later date, but was told since she had completed it in the computer system, the test could not be retaken.

Collins introduces baby Tyler to her sisters, Shanell Brinkley-Chapman (front) and Madonna Baker (back.)Tommitrise Collins

“A couple of hours later, she emailed me again and said, ‘Oh my God — I just got off of Facebook and saw how viral (the photo of you) is going and I wanted to let you know I used some of your extra credit to bump your grade up,’” said Collins. “So, I have a ‘B’ and I won’t have to retake it.”

Collins labored for several more hours — twenty in total — until Tyler Elise was born. Collins says she took the test during labor not to be a hero, but because she knew life with a newborn would be hectic.

Twenty hours of labor and one completed exam later, Tyler Elise was born weighing 7 lbs, 10 oz.Tommitrise Collins

“I knew that once she came, it would only make things harder,” said Collins. “I wasn’t going to be able to keep making up stuff. I couldn’t get behind on anything. I’m still trying to stay ahead.”

Tyler is now 1 week old, and Collins says she’s settling in to motherhood well.

“When she sleeps, I do my schoolwork. When she’s up, I take care of her,” she said.

Collins is a single mother, working as a waitress while taking college classes. She says her daughter will have no excuses for missing school or giving up on her goals.

“She better not come to me with a cough telling me, ‘I’m sick — I can’t go to school.’ She’s going to school. I’ll remind her that I finished an exam while I was in labor with her,” she joked.

"I hope I showed people that you don't have to stop achieving your goals just because you end up being pregnant," said Collins. "She's not a mistake -- she's a blessing to me, and she's going to be walking in her momma's footsteps."Tommitrise Collins

“I think people were inspired by the photo because some people actually quit school because they get pregnant — we all know somebody who quit school because of a pregnancy or something else. So, I hope I showed people that you don’t have to stop achieving your goals just because you end up pregnant. She’s not a mistake — she’s a blessing to me, and she’s going to be walking in her momma’s footsteps.”