Remember when we all praised Kate Middleton for putting on a dress, walking outside, and smiling like, three hours after she had given birth? Well, no disrespect to the Duchess, but she's got nothing on Almaz Derese, a 21-year-old new mother from Ethiopia who took her final exams 30 minutes after giving birth to her son.
Almaz was hoping to sit for the tests in English, math, and Amharic (Ethiopia's official language) before her baby was born, but they were postponed because of Ramadan, and she ended up going into labor on Monday, June 10, right before the first exam was about to start. "I did not want to waste the opportunity that I tirelessly worked for a decade," she told CNN.
So her husband explained why she couldn't sit for the exams, and they let her take them while she was in the hospital.
If she wasn't able to take the exams that day, she'd have to wait another year, so she did what any hardcore new mother who cares as much about herself and her education as her new baby would do. She took those tests. Thirty minutes after she gave birth.
Now, I haven't given birth. But I've had stomachaches that have prevented me from taking tests. And they were nowhere near the pain of labor. When I go for a jog, I can't do anything or think about anything for, like, the next two hours because I'm so tired and out of it. I can't imagine sitting for actual, written tests 30 minutes after popping a human child out of my body. Almaz Derese is my hero.
Not only is Almaz an insanely dedicated student, but she was also super good at giving birth. "Because I was rushing to sit the exam," she told the BBC, "my labor wasn't difficult at all." Love this woman's priorities so much. Sure, the baby had to come out, but she also had an education to obtain.
In Ethiopia, it's not uncommon for young girls to be married off at a very young age. More than 40 percent are married before they turn 18, according to CNN. And it's not uncommon for girls to be pregnant while they attend secondary school. 2018's UNICEF report explains that "the country is home to 15 million child brides, and more than a third fo them were married before they were 15 years."
Almaz was married at the age of 17, and it's common in Ethiopia for young women to drop out of school when they have children and come back later to finish their studies. But Almaz was determined to finish her secondary schooling, and her husband encouraged her, too.
"My husband was so supportive, and he always encouraged me to be strong in my education," she told CNN. "When I say that I must take the exam right after giving birth, he did not hesitate to help me." Good on you, Almaz's husband.
It seems Almaz's story is part of a larger trend in Ethiopia's education system. A spokeswoman for the country's education ministry told CNN that more than 11 students who gave birth since the start of the National Exams on Monday have also sat for their tests. We stan these incredibly strong women who weren't about to sacrifice their education just because they were having kids.
In fact, about half of the students who take the national examination are women, many of whom are married, have children, or give birth to them while they're in school. This takes a level of commitment and strength that most of us probably don't understand.
Almaz told the BBC that she "was pleased with how the exams went and her baby son is doing well." Who was it who said that it wasn't possible to "have it all"? You might want to take that back now that Almaz Derese has proven you wrong.
And even though she's a mother now, and she finished her secondary school exams, don't think that Almaz is done with her education. She hopes to take a two-year course that will prepare her to go to a university.
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