Monday Motivation: Woman Takes Bar Exam While in Labor, Gives Birth, then Finishes the Exam the Next Day – and Passes!

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Happy Monday! I hope that this Monday following this all-too-short weekend finds you healthy, well-rested, and with your eyes firmly on the prize of your ultimate goal – passing the bar exam!

There are a variety of factors and obstacles that can impact your journey towards success, and one of the things that I always try to make abundantly clear to examinees is that with determination and grit, you can overcome anything and be successful. In order to highlight this, today I wanted to share a story with you about a woman who graduated from Loyola University School of Law.

When Brianna Hill was originally scheduled to take the July UBE bar exam in Illinois, she knew there would be challenges with being around 28 weeks pregnant. However, with all of the uncertainty around COVID-19 and the challenges surrounding a safe exam administration, the exam ended up getting pushed to October. Suddenly, that manageable 28-week pregnancy was going to be a 38-week pregnancy. Determined to success with her goals and motivated to become an attorney, Brianna pushed on and was ready for on October 5, 2020, the first day of the two-day test period.

The remote exam in Illinois was divided into 4 90-minute sections, and 30 minutes into the test Brianna felt a sensation that led her to think, “I really hope my water didn’t just break.” However, due to the exam software proctoring, she couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom and check. Clearly, this was an opportunity to panic and abandon the exam, but Brianna held fast to her ambitions and dreams, persevering until the break. 

During the break, Brianna realized that her water had indeed broken, and called her husband, midwife, mom, did some crying, but after some discussion around her current state, realized that she had some time before she needed to be at the hospital. Incredibly, Brianna decided to complete the second 90-minute section in the afternoon, before then heading to the hospital where she arrived around 5:30pm. A little under 5 hours later, Brianna and her husband welcomed a new baby boy to the world.

This story could stop right here and already be pretty inspiring, but Brianna, with the support of hospital staff and family, decided to finish the bar exam the following day. Having just given birth, and aware of the strict requirements of the bar examiners, the hospital provided Brianna with a private room, hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the entrance, and fully supported her finishing the exam. You may be wondering about the new baby boy during all this, and amazingly, Brianna was feeding the baby during breaks!

Months later, Brianna got news that probably wasn’t quite as exciting as the birth of a new baby, but had to be satisfying in an entirely different way. Last week, Brianna found out that she passed the Illinois Bar Exam! Can you imagine overcoming all of that, successfully performing on the test despite giving birth, changing locations, and literally having all of your plans upended? It’s really incredible.

I hope this motivates you to remember that anything is possible, no matter what the obstacle or obstacles that you face or must overcome. Remember that people here at the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), your friends, and your family all want you to succeed, and we all believe in you. And most importantly, you should believe in yourself, because if you put the time, effort, follow a plan, adapt, and believe, you will succeed. 

Brianna had this to say: “I’m so thankful for the support system I had around me. The midwives and nurses were so invested in helping me not only become a mom but also a lawyer,” She added. “My husband and law school friends provided me with so much encouragement so I could push through the finish line even under less than ideal circumstances. And my family, especially my sister, just kept reminding me how I could do it even when I wasn’t so sure myself.” (as reported by CNN)

Remember that you have a support system that is always here for you, the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success. Not only are we here to provide guidance and support, but we are also here to provide belief in you and encouragement when you are struggling. I personally believe that each of you has the ability to be successful on the bar exam, and that if you dedicate the time, energy, and effort, you will be successful.

On a personal note, the best moments of my year are when I receive a call, email, text, or note from a student informing me that they have been successful and are going to become licensed attorneys. There is no better feeling than helping someone to achieve their dreams, and I want to help you achieve yours.

Have a wonderful Monday, and remember to stay motivated and believe in yourself. If Brianna Smith can go into labor and give birth in the midst of the bar exam and pass the bar exam, you can overcome obstacles and challenges in your life and also be successful.

I believe in you. You can do this. You will be successful.