Posted April 11, 2018, 5:35 pm CDT
Ieshia Champs has come a long way since she dropped out of high school and had her first child at age 19. The 33-year-old Texas woman will be graduating magna cum laude from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in May.
Champs was pregnant with her fourth child when she began attending services at the Ministers for Christ Christian Center in Houston. One of the church leaders, Louise Holman, told Champs in 2009 that God wanted Champs to become a lawyer—which had been a longtime dream for Champs.
That same year was filled with adversity, but Champs credits support from church leaders with helping see her through it. “I ended up having a house fire, I lost everything that I had,” Champs recalled in a Yahoo News interview. “I got laid off from my job, the father to two of my children died of cancer while I was seven months pregnant, I literally tried to kill myself.”
Champs persevered. She got her GED, obtained a community college degree in paralegal studies, and graduated from the University of Houston. Champs says her children helped out at home and assisted her studies by using flash cards and acting a mock jurors when Champs reviewed her lessons.
Champs hopes to work in the areas of family and juvenile law and would like to one day become a judge. The viral photo is one of several taken by a church bishop—Richard Holman, who is also a professional photographer—to celebrate her achievement. Champs says the photos of her with her children make her cry and smile.
“I see a woman who at one time knew that the odds were against her,” she tells CBS. “Looking at that picture reminds me of the fact that I didn’t just defy the odds, me and my children destroyed them.”
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