Single mom who went into labor during final exam graduates from Harvard Law School

Single mom who went into labor during final exam graduates from Harvard Law School
Credit: Screen grab of Instagram post

(CBS News) - Briana Williams, J.D., is a Harvard-educated lawyer, single mom and inspiration to many.

Williams, a 24-year-old from Los Angeles, defeated incredible odds when she had a baby in law school -- literally. She was in labor in a Harvard Law School classroom while taking a final exam.

"I went into labor in April -- during final exam period," Williams writes in an Instagram post that has gone viral. "I immediately requested an epidural so that my contractions wouldn't interfere with my Family Law grade. And, with tears in my eyes, I finished it."

How did this woman get through two incredibly tough things -- law school and labor -- at the same time? She says she simply "bit the bullet."

She completed her exam and then gave birth to her daughter, Evelyn. She had one more year of law school left, and being a young, single mom did not deter her. She kept biting the bullet.

After Evelyn was born, Williams learned how to breastfeed with one arm while writing a paper with the other, USA Today reports. She said some days she was so mentally and emotionally fatigued that she did not leave her bed. Williams struggled with childcare and Evelyn often had to attend class with her.

"It was not atypical to see me rushing through Wasserstein to the Dean of Students' office with Evelyn in her carriage, asking DOS can they keep her for a few until class was over," Williams writes. "If not, she'd just have to come with me to class."

"I did not think that, at 24 years old, as a single mom, I would be able to get through one of the most intellectually rigorous and challenging positions of my life," Williams wrote. "It was hard. It hurt. Instagram can make peoples' lives seem seamless, but this journey has been heart wrenching. However, I am happy to say that I DID do it." Last week, all of the pain and hard work paid off for Williams.

With her 1-year-old daughter in her arms, Williams walked across the graduation stage and received that hard-earned law degree from Harvard University. It was an image of inspiration and determination.

She said she knows that when she became a single mother, she became a statistic, but she didn't want to be just that -- she wanted to be an example.

Williams admits she did not think she could do it. But one thing kept her determined. "Evelyn -- they said that because of you I wouldn't be able to do this. Just know that I did this BECAUSE OF YOU," Williams wrote.

"Thank you for giving me the strength and courage to be invincible. Let's keep beating all their odds, baby," Williams wrote for her daughter.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.