Final exams can be a difficult time for some, but for Maria Gallo, it would be life-changing.
As a fully online student, Gallo had everything planned for her summer term, including giving birth, which would fall during exam week. She knew it would be a juggling act but was determined to finish the term strong—even if it meant completing work from a hospital bed in between contractions.
“I never wanted to stop my classes just because I was pregnant. School is a priority. I planned it all out and let my teachers know from the beginning,” says Gallo, who is pursuing a B.S. in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications fully online. “I asked them if they could open up the course modules so I could work a little bit ahead and they were very supportive.”
From 2019 to 2020 there were a lot of big changes in Gallo’s life. The changes were not just because of the pandemic—she moved to Miami from Northern Virginia, was newly married and obtained a new position working full-time, in addition to pursuing her bachelor’s degree.
The changes also included another move—this time from Miami to Naples to live with her mother-in-law for extra support when the baby came. Gallo traveled from Naples back to Miami in the final days of her pregnancy for doctor appointments and to deliver her baby girl.
“Online learning was the only way I could have accomplished everything,” says Gallo, who transferred to FIU from a college she attended in Northern Virginia. “It was the main reason, other than reputation, that I chose FIU—I had so much going on.”
As for her classes, everything fell into place because her professors were very understanding and that made her experience a positive one overall, she says.
“I was going to make it work and finish the summer goals I set for myself. My online professors really helped,” Gallo adds.
On June 14, Gallo delivered her baby girl; in the hours before, Gallo had turned classwork in from her hospital bed. All of her professors allowed her to make arrangements to take her exams at another time.
Gallo noted that technology today allows great flexibility and tools so you don’t have to put off a degree or a pregnancy—you can accomplish both. She urges students to take advantage of the technological era we’re in.
“I was able to organize myself completely through the use of online tools. Online learning with FIU gives me that space of being able to go to school, be at home, take care of my baby and talk to a client,” explains Gallo. “You just have to have tenacity. Don’t focus so much on all the things going on. Make it work, list your priorities and don’t overthink it,” advises Gallo.