First comes baby then comes diploma

Being a single mother is as trying as taking 18 hours in a graduating college semester. But for Whitney Walker, the trying task is doing both.

Graduating from Southeastern this fall, Walker is the 22-year-old single mother of 3-year old Collin Walker.

“I got pregnant maybe a month before I graduated high school, so I’ve been a mom literally throughout my entire undergraduate career,” says Walker.

Upon getting the news of her pregnancy, Walker’s life turned upside down. Walker says her parents were filled with disappointment and her boyfriend at the time encouraged her to think of alternative options for handling the pregnancy.

“Every one around me tried to get me to make a selfish decision; they didn’t understand that I was already in love with the person I had created,” said Walker. “My parents and boyfriend tried to make it seem like everything I had going for me would suddenly disappear.”

Determined to keep her baby and still peruse her dreams of being a speech-language pathologist, Walker started working as a waitress for Chili’s Bar & Grill the summer after she graduated high school. Once she was accepted to Southeastern later that summer, Walker began to build a life for her and her baby boy in Hammond.

“I had TOPS, so I wasn’t worried about tuition. Everything else was a struggle because I literally had to figure it out on my own. In efforts to prove what a bad idea keeping Collin was nobody helped me with anything. I went from barely being responsible for feeding myself to trying to figure out how to set up lights in a house,” Walker said with a laugh.

Walker gave birth to a healthy Collin Alexander Walker on January 20, 2012.

Young Collin Walker hanging out on the sofa, enjoying Micky Mouse Club House.

Walker brought her baby home to her rented house in Hammond and took a semester off to take care of him. Walker made up the classes that summer, once she was more comfortable with putting her baby in day care.

“Its sad when you see life happen that way to someone so smart and driven. But Whit didn’t let it stop her. She stayed her goofy, free-spirited self and she really stepped up. Collin is the most well taken care of child I know,” said Marques Rhodes, Walker’s manager at Chili’s.

Collin is approaching his fourth birthday and his mom is approaching her fall commencement. Walker says this is a moment that seemed far away at times, but she never doubted it would come.

Walker thanks her lion family for their support and love.

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