When you accomplish a major life milestone like a graduation, of course you want to celebrate it by sharing the good news on social media.
One woman’s law school graduation pics are going viral, because not only is the achievement impressive in itself, but it’s remarkable considering the challenges that stood in her way over the years.
Ieshia Champs knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she was 7 years old, but it seemed like a far off dream for someone in her situation.
A rough, unstable home life ensured her dream would not come easy.
“I really didn’t have any stable guidance at that time. My mom was addicted to drugs. My dad was deceased. And I was homeless,” Champs told CBS News.
Abandoning her childhood dream, Champs dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and started a family.
But in 2009, a series of horrible misfortunes hit Champs all at once, and she hit rock bottom.
“I ended up having a house fire, I lost everything that I had. I got laid off from my job, the father to two of my children died of cancer while I was seven months pregnant,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“I literally tried to kill myself.”
But then, she got an unexpected sign of hope right when she needed it most.
One of the leaders at Champs’ church called her up one day and said God had given her a sign that Champs should pursue a law degree.
“I never told her I wanted to be a lawyer,” Champs told USA TODAY.
“I thought it was a little crazy because I was too old and I had three children with my fourth child on the way,” she told CBS.
However, that sign put her back on track towards her childhood dream, and despite the odds Champs decided to pursue the law degree. Continuing her education, she got her GED, went to Houston Community College and to the University of Houston-Downtown.
And then, it was time to get her law degree. She enrolled in Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
Obtaining a law degree while being a single mother of five wasn’t easy—but she didn’t do it on her own. She got help and support from her kids along the way.
Her oldest son David pitched in and helped watch the younger kids while his mom pursued her dream, and the kids even helped her study.
“They would help me review with flash cards while I cooked,” Champs said. “They would sit as a mock jury while I taught them what I learned that day.”
Her hard work paid off: she’s set to graduate in May!
To mark the achievement, Champs, 33, recruited one of her church leaders, Bishop Richard Holman—who also happens to be a professional photographer.
Holman took a series of photos of the family. While Champs in her graduation gown is the center of the photos, her kids are right behind her like always.
Champs holds a sign that says “I did it!” while her kids have signs that say “I helped!” and “Me too!”
“I took the pictures with my kids because they helped me through school,” Champs said. “They’re graduating too!”
For Champs, the photos are more than a celebration—they’re a sign of how far she’s come in life.
“When I look at the pictures, I cry, I smile, and I’m very grateful,” Champs told CBS News. “I see a woman who at one time knew that the odds were against her.”
“Looking at that picture reminds me of the fact that I didn’t just defy the odds, me and my children destroyed them.”
Champs hopes to use her law degree to pursue a specialization in family and juvenile law—so she can go back and help kids out of the situation she was once in.
“I feel like with what I’ve been through as a child and in my upbringing, I can probably help some of these juveniles who may feel like there’s no hope for them,” Champs told Yahoo.
“I want to be the one to fight for those children who are in these horrible living arrangements … to give them the same opportunity that I had.”