Earning your degree? Challenging.
Doing both at once? A seriously incredible feat. Yet we're blown away each graduation season by the mamas who manage late nights of studying on top of late nights of parenting.
Check out some truly inspiring women: 👏👏👏
Briana Williams, Harvard School of Law, JD
When Williams went into labor before she was scheduled to take a final exam last year, she had every excuse to postpone—but she went ahead with the test shortly before welcoming her daughter. "I just thought that I needed to 'keep going.' I refused to let the pain, stress, or feelings that overwhelmed me interfere with my end-goal," she tells Motherly of that experience.
After the final exams in 2017, the real test of balancing single motherhood and a strenuous final year at the Harvard Law School began. But as you would expect from a mama who managed to take Harvard exams while in labor, she did it and graduated this spring.
"I want other moms to know that it is possible to have the job and life of your dreams as well as be an awesome mother," she says. "The choices are not mutually exclusive."
Ronlonda Robinson, Bachelor of Apparel Design
Having her first child during her junior year of high school and then welcoming her second baby during college wasn't easy, but Robinson says it gave her even more drive to succeed. "We were all created for a purpose and it's as simple as doing the thing that you love to do," she tells Yahoo! Lifestyle. "Start working towards your dreams and don't be afraid to fall. You don't have to be defined by your struggle, but you can use it to learn, gain strength and be motivated for change. Hard work pays off, so never give up."
Ieshia Champs, JD—and mother of five
Before she started classes at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Champs was already used to overcoming challenges: She grew up in the foster care system, lost her home to a fire in 2009 and the father of two of her children died that same year from cancer. From that low point, she committed to earning her GED and then just kept going—with help from her five study buddies.
"Don't let your current situation determine your future circumstances," she told KPRC. "I honestly believe people can make their struggles into their success story."
Shannon Haines, MD—and former teen mom
When she became pregnant during her sophomore year of high school, Haines' dream of becoming a doctor seemed impossible. "I was on track to become a doctor so I was like, 'what am I going to do now?' I felt kind of hopeless," she told ABC News. Despite having to step back from her education several times in the coming years, she remained motivated—both for her sake and so she could set a good example for her daughter.
"She doesn't know any different but she's had to put up with me going to school to study. We'd be at the library studying, and she'd be helping [me] study," she said.
Haines earned her medical degree from the University of Nebraska last month and will begin her residency at the UNMC Pediatrics Residency Program.
Alejandra Falla, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD
Falla and her husband always planned to have children, but learning she was pregnant the week after her final thesis meeting wasn't exactly the timeline they anticipated. "I still had to finish experiments, write a thesis and have a public defense," she said for MIT News. "I had a difficult first trimester. But as I started to process the idea of having a baby, I began to understand the true meaning of life and how my priorities were about to change."
Although Falla said her pregnancy helped her realized there was much more to life than her thesis, preparing for her daughter's birth also gave her strength during the challenging moments that go along with earning your PhD from MIT.
"Jokingly, my husband and I said that she should also earn a degree," she said. "Visualizing her wearing a baby regalia and being with me during the graduation ceremonies was an image that motivated me to continue."
Nearly four months after her daughter's birth, they both donned those hoods for mama's PhD in Microbiology and her baby's PhD in "cuteness."