When Ieshia Champs got the news Monday morning that she had passed the bar exam, she said she couldn’t stop screaming.
“I screamed so loud and I ran through my apartment 15 times, I just keep saying thank you, God,” Champs said. “When I saw it was just so surreal.”
As a single mother of five children, Champs’ struggles were shared with the world after her law school graduation photos went viral last summer. Juggling law school was not the beginning of the challenges she faced, though. Champs said she was raised in foster care and moved from home to home throughout her early middle school years before she dropped out of high school her sophomore year.
“My lifelong goal of becoming an attorney was just kind of shattered at that point,” Champs said.
Champs saw significant traumas throughout her life – she was a teen mother, lost her children’s father to cancer, lost everything she owned in a house fire and even battled suicidal thoughts. Most recently, she went through a divorce while completing law school.
“It was so much,” Champs said. “Even during the bar exam I had to sacrifice a lot of time away from my children.”
Champs said after she graduated and her photos went viral, her life changed when support poured in from strangers everywhere.
“People from all over the world sent me gift cards and money and that’s how my children and I ate during the summer. My church family would cook meals for us just to make sure we had something to eat,” Champs said. “It was really, really, really stressful and I just thank God that he was able to bring me through it and pass [the bar exam] at that!”
Champs said aside from the support she’s received, she’s been asked to share her story at events across the country, allowing her to travel the world and sometimes bring her children.
“I have been asked to speak at so many events all across the world,” she said. “That has been a real-life game changer for me.”
Only a day after her results, Champs said she has already applied to several jobs in the Houston area but her dream job is to be a federal judge, or open her own family law practice.
“Whatever circumstances [you] may be faced with now…don’t let that stop you,” Champs said. “What you are going through now doesn’t have to determine your future.”