“I grew up in foster care,” Ieshia Champs says in a Facebook video, “I grew up on the street. I had given up on myself. I had checked the ‘she’ll never amount to anything box.'” Thankfully, Ieshia, a single mother of five, had a strong church family who had not given up on her.
In 2009, Champs was struggling. In an interview with USA TODAY, she says she had recently lost the father of two of her children to cancer, her mother had a stroke from which she never recovered, and she lost everything she owned to a house fire. Seeing no way up and out of this despair, she tried to commit suicide.
Praise the Lord, she did not succeed in ending her life, because her story was not over yet. Her church family rallied around her to help her move forward from that dark time. One of her mentors at church, Louise Holman, even called her out of the blue and said she thought she should go to law school.
Ieshia Champs was shocked. She had dreamed of being a lawyer, but she’d never told anyone.
Now, nine years later, Champs has a law degree in hand from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where she graduated May 11, 2018. She credits God, her sister, her wonderful children, and a lot of hard work with getting her there. When her pastor Richard Holman took graduation photos of her and her five kids, they quickly went viral, and people all over the word were inspired by Ieshia’s story.
After graduation, Ieshia Champs had another daunting task ahead: she had to pass the Texas state bar exam. In addition to motherhood, studying became her full-time job. “Every minute of the day was planned for something,” Champs said in her video. “I studied twelve, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen hours a day.”
She says her oldest child, David, helped out taking care of the younger kids while she studied for the bar, saying he let his siblings know he was there to take care of them, letting them know that “Mom can really not be bothered at all.”