Any parent would agree that it is not easy to raise a child, but it is even more difficult when you are also working towards a degree.
Heidi Thomas isk a 23-year-old senior here at Grambling State University, but more importantly, a mother who has to deal with the heartache of not being with her child.
Thomas is originally from Antigua and came to Grambling in Fall 2013 after being recruited by Coach Totty O. Totty to join the GSU Lady Tigers soccer team. However, Thomas had previously had a taste of the college life before attending GSU.
Thomas came to Grambling as a transfer student after graduating from Bryant and Stratton community college in Syracuse, N.Y.
This semester will be Thomas’ last as she is currently preparing to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice; but her journey here at GSU has not been easy.
It was Fall 2013 and soccer season was coming to an end, when Thomas discovered that she was four months pregnant. “It was terrifying and shocking, my whole world was falling apart,” said the Antigua native. Surprisingly, Thomas did not suffer from any pregnancy symptoms and was frequently on birth control pills over the four month period, hence why she was unaware of her pregnancy.
Thomas participated in a competitive season with the Lady Tigers and did not suffer at all. It was when the intensity of the practices started to decrease, that Thomas began to notice the drastic changes in her body.
Coach Totty supported Thomas through this distressing phase and ensured that she got the assistance required. “My main concern was how she was going to handle the situation emotionally,” said Coach Totty. “I immediately sent her to the athletic trainer and when I realized she was going to be fine, I was happy.”
The father of Thomas’ child was in Antigua, but after corresponding with him, Thomas had decided to get an abortion. She made it to the clinic, but after receiving her ultrasound, Thomas could not go through with the process. “Seeing my baby and hearing his heartbeat completely changed my mind. There was no way I could do it.”
Thomas dropped out of school for Spring 2014 and gave birth on March 28 to her son: Tareq Cayden Amari Gardiner. Thomas spent four and a half months with her son before leaving him and returning to GSU for the Fall 2014 semester.
Despite the fact that this was a traumatic and agonizing time for Thomas, she still managed to maintain her emotional stability and keep a smile on her face. “If I don’t do it for him nobody else will, that’s why I’ve got to motivate myself and be strong for the both of us,” Thomas said. Although Thomas is miles away from her baby, she still ensures that she remains in regular contact with him.
She sets up Skype calls with Tareq everyday and is informed of his daily adventures by his father and other family members.
“Heidi is strong and very willing and has been from a young age,” Rosemary Thomas, her mother, said in a telephone interview. “Out of my seven children she is the only girl, which is why she has such a strong mindset, and I support her and Tareq in any way I can.”