24-Year-Old Single Mum Graduates From Harvard Law School. Her Story Will Melt Your Heart

24-year-old Briana Williams was teary-eyed and beamed brightly as she carried Evelyn, her 1-year-old baby, after receiving her Juris Doctor degree.

“To say that my last year of law school, with a newborn, and as a single mom was a challenge would be an understatement,” she recounted in her Instagram post.

“When I got pregnant during my second year at Harvard Law School, I was made painstakingly aware of the professional woman vs. homemaker dichotomy that is still present in today’s society.

“Among some of my peers, instructors, and even prospective employers, I saw the doubt of my ability to succeed in their eyes as they’d hesitantly offer their congratulations on my pregnancy.

 

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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. 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. I struggled with reliable childcare. It was not atypical to see me rushing through Wasserstein to the Dean of Students’ office with Evelyn in her carriage, asking DOS can they keep her for a few until class was over. If not, she’d just have to come with me to class. Evie attended classes often. So I’m going to be honest with you guys.. I didnt 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. Instagram can make peoples’ lives seem seamless, but this journey has been heartwrenching. However, I am happy to say that I DID do it. Today, Evelyn in my arms, with tears streaming down my face, I accepted my Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. At first, I was the anomaly of my [marginalized] community. Then, as a single mother, I became a statistic. Next, I pray that- for the sake of my baby, I will be an example. 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.

A post shared by Briana Williams, J.D. (@lovexbriana) on

“The question of how I would balance my professional and parental responsibilities rang in the air between my protruding belly and their critical gazes like a siren. I was suffocated with their cautious queries about whether I would wait until after solidifying a job for post-graduation to disclose my pregnancy to my law firm.

“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,” she said. “And, with tears in my eyes, I finished it.”

“Some days I was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that I did not leave my bed,” she admitted.

“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,” she confessed.

Williams is a self-described “small town girl from the Atlanta” and is the first in her family to graduate from college in a family of six children. She obtained her  Legal Studies degree from Saint John’s University and graduated magna cum laude.

Briana didn’t think she “would be able to get through one of the most intellectually rigorous and challenging positions” of her life. “It was hard. It hurt…” but she made it.

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