24yo Single Mom Goes into Labor During Finals, Still Graduates from Harvard Law (with Honors)

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By her Instagram account, Brianna Williams seems as if she has it all. She’s beautiful, stylish, well-traveled, and she’s the mom of an adorable little girl named Evelyn.

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Williams is also a hard-working, smart, financially savvy, single mother graduate of Harvard Law School. A few months ago, she carried her baby daughter across the stage as she accepted her Juris Doctor degree from one of the most prestigious law schools in the world.

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In an emotional post, Williams explained the unusual struggles she faced during her pregnancy.

“I went into labor in April–during final exam period. I immediately requested an epidural so that my contractions wouldn’t interfere with my Family Law grade. And, with tears in my eyes, I finished it. This ‘biting the bullet’ experience is quite quintessential of my time at Harvard.”

After the birth of Evelyn, Williams challenges only got bigger.

“To say that my last year of law school, with a newborn, and as a single mom was a challenge would be an understatement. Some days I was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that I did not leave my bed.”

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“I struggled with reliable childcare,” she admitted. “Evie attended classes often.”

Sometimes her self-confidence wavered.

“So I’m going to be honest with you guys…I didn’t think I could do it. I did not think that, at 24 years old, as a single mom, I would be able to get through one of the most intellectually rigorous and challenging positions of my life. It was hard. It hurt.”

Williams credits her daughter for the inspiration to reach her dream.

“Evelyn–they said that because of you I wouldn’t be able to do this. Just know that I did this BECAUSE OF YOU. Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to be invincible. Let’s keep beating all their odds, baby.”

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Calling herself a small town girl from Atlanta, Williams was the first in her family to graduate from college. She attended and graduated from Saint John’s University, magna cum laude, with a degree in Legal Studies. “I went to college with one suitcase and one pair of shoes, holding on to a bible that my older sister had tucked away in my bag.”

Although she was intimidated by all the students who had graduated from other Ivy League schools when she entered Harvard Law School, her father’s words gave her encouragement.

“You got something they don’t got–you’re street smart. You’re book smart AND you’re street smart,” he told her.

She thrived at Harvard Law School and was even the communications director for the Harvard Black Law Students Association in her third year. “I made sure to engage in courses that contextualized the law with my blackness, femininity, and income strata,” she wrote.

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This story is so inspiring because it reminds us that having children does not mean life stops or that mothers can’t reach their dreams. Handling an unexpected pregnancy, young and alone, did not slow this badass mother down. Now a Harvard educated lawyer, Williams works in Los Angeles encouraging other young women–as her father encourage her–to reach their own dreams, no matter their circumstances.