Single mom, 24, graduates from Harvard Law School: ‘Let’s keep beating all their odds’
To graduate from Harvard Law School would be a monumental moment for anyone. So when Briana Williams did it as a single mom, people flooded her Instagram page with congratulations — sending her story viral.
Becoming a lawyer was always a goal for Williams. But when she became a single mother a year before finishing her Harvard law degree, her dream seemed almost impossible. The 24-year-old shared a candid post about how she decided to complete a final exam in April 2017 while in labor before heading to the hospital to give birth.
“I immediately requested an epidural so that my contractions wouldn’t interfere,” the mom writes. “To say that my last year of law school, with a newborn, and as a single mom was a challenge would be an understatement.”
Beating all odds and statistics, Williams walked across the graduation stage with her adorable mini-me, Evelyn, the two of them wearing matching caps and gowns.
Williams tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the road to success wasn’t easy, and there were times when she thought she couldn’t do what she needed to do.
“There were many days that I’d go into a depression because I felt overwhelmed and let the pressure of what I was trying to do get to me. I suppose I just did what I had to do, regardless of how I felt on the inside, because I did not want people to be able to say that I had to choose between motherhood and success,” she reveals. “I refused to allow anyone to assume that my daughter could hold me back in any way when she is such a fundamental piece of my success and courage. I knew that if I persisted, I could help other similarly situated women.”
Her example is definitely motivating thousands of other women online. A commenter wrote, “You are an Amazing Woman, Mom, Lawyer Thank you for Instagramming Your Amazing Journey And Showing Us how strong We Really are.” Another commenter said, “Congratulations!! This is an amazing example of perseverance and determination and what the love for your child can and will make you fight for.”
Williams is heading back to her home state of California, where she will practice law at a firm in Los Angeles. She will be joining the litigation department and also will undertake pro bono opportunities.
The new grad says that her roots and family were the support she needed at the beginning of her law school journey when she felt she didn’t belong.
“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. I’d worked full-time as a waitress and bartender in New York to get by,” she writes. “I found ways that I could appreciate coming from a disenfranchised background. I could look at the law through the lens of a black woman and (eventually), a financially independent single mother. I used this to my advantage.”
While her 20,000 Instagram followers might believe that Williams is living a perfect life, she cautions not to be deceived by social media.
“Everyone has their own lives and issues that they hide behind their social media platforms. In a time of such hyper-consumerism when socioeconomic mobility is restricted because everything is coveted, commodified, and marketized, it is important to think about how social influencers’ profiles are purposefully glamorized to attract audiences who subscribe to such behaviors. My Instagram portrays a much more glam life than I actually live,” she explains.
“It can look like I always travel, but that’s because I only really like to post travel photos. There is life in between. I rarely wear makeup, and it’s not often that you will see me out of gym clothes. I don’t ever have enough time!”
Now that Williams’s story has gone viral, she says that she is writing a book to answer all the questions her followers have about life as a single mom and finding balance. But in the interim, she points people to her podcast: “Download Petty Politics; it is my and my colleague Cameron Clark’s podcast, and it generally addresses many of the questions that I am getting.”