To the surprise of one Tennessee college professor, a photo of a him holding his student's toddler son during a class lecture Monday night has taken the Internet by storm.
"I have my own 2-year-old, so I held him and went about my teaching and it was no big deal," Joel Bunkowske of Nashville, Tennessee, told ABC News. "I didn’t really think anything of it."
"It's not really about me," he added. "I think a lot of people are struggling, like single mothers like Amanda. What touches our hearts is there are people that care. To me, it [the photo] represents what teachers do every day, all across the United States."
Bunkowske, who is an educator at DeVry University in Nashville, Tennessee, said hours before his interpersonal communications class, he received a call from student Amanda Osbon, informing him that she would be unable to attend that night.
"She had a situation where she had a babysitter lined up and the babysitter didn’t show up for some reason," Bunkowske said. "My response was 'It’s a whole lot better if you come to class because I'd hate for you to miss a class.' To stop someone from getting that education because of a life circumstance, I think is a travesty."
After receiving permission from the campus director, Osbon was cleared to bring her 1-year-old son Xzavier to class, which lasted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For the first hour and a half of Bunkowske's lecture, Xzavier sat quietly next to his mother, Bunkowske said. But being a toddler, it was clear he began to get a little restless.
"Xzavier was sitting beside me on the chair, very well behaved, eating a snack," Osbon said. "When the [7:30] break was over, he wanted to get up and he started walking around. My professor said, 'It's OK Amanda, he's only a toddler. At that point I broke down and started crying because I was so embarrassed that I had to swallow my pride."
"My professor, without skipping a beat, reached down and grabbed him [Xzavier] and that's where the picture came from," she added. "I shared it to get my professor recognition he deserved for what he did for me."
With Bunkowske's permission, Osbon said she snapped a photo of him and her son and shared it on Facebook where it was quickly shared over 2,500 times and trending number one on the site by Wednesday morning.
Osbon said she hopes the photo of Bunkowske and Xzavier motivates single parents to continue fighting for their dreams, no matter what obstacles they may face.
"Never give up because you'll never know who's on your side," she said. "For him to allow my son to come to school, for him to hold my son, he went from being just an educator to being a compassionate human being. I think that's what everyone sees in that photo."