Controversial or Natural? Photo of Mom Breastfeeding at College Graduation Causes Stir

06/12/2014 at 07:00 AM EDT

Karlesha Thurman: Photo of Breastfeeding Mom at Graduation Causes Stir
Karlesha Thurman
Courtesy Karlesha Thurman
Hungry babies wait for no mom – even ones in the midst of their college graduations.

So when Karlesha Thurman's 3-month-old daughter needed to eat, her mom happily obliged, and never thought a snapshot of the moment would turn into such a big deal.

"I was proud of the fact that not only did I graduate, but that I got to share the moment with the one person who is the most important to me and that is my daughter," Thurman, 25, said Monday, according to

Thurman picked up an accounting degree from California State University, Long Beach, on May 22. Shortly after she crossed the stage to pick up her diploma, friends asked to meet her baby daughter, Aaliyah. The baby cried shortly after connecting with her mom and seemed hungry, so Thurman fed her.

A friend who "thought it was so cool" asked to take a photo. Thurman agreed and thought little of it until she decided to post it on a Facebook page titled Black Women Do Breastfeed this past weekend, in response to comments some women shared about getting glowers while nursing in public.

"I did it to show it's natural, it's normal, there's nothing wrong with it," Thurman said. "I didn't even know there was a big controversy about breastfeeding in public until all of this happened."

The photo has earned plenty of online eyebrow raises – in addition to many supporters – and steely Thurman is making no apologies for doing what she feels is best for her baby.

"I honestly thought that as a society, people were more understanding to breastfeeding and understood the importance of breastfeeding," she said. "It's not disgusting, it's not a bad thing, it's not a negative thing. It's the best thing for my daughter. More people should do it."

Controversial or Natural? Photo of Mom Breastfeeding at College Graduation Causes Stir| Around the Web, Real People Stories

Heather Bays (left) and her daughter Audrey

Courtesy Heather Bays

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