The proof of law graduate Brianna Hill's incredible courage and determination will likely go down in history.
Women are superhuman sometimes and no matter how much appreciation we shower them with, it will fall short. The sheer power and determination needed to deal with systems that don't benefit us is a massive feat of endurance at times. One Chicago woman learned it the hard way when she had to give the Illinois bar exam while 38 weeks pregnant. The incredible proof of her courage and determination will likely go down in history.
Bar exam takers are generally nervous, but this 28-year-old woman had a lot more to worry about. Brianna Hill, a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, was supposed to take the bar exam in July 2020. She knew she would be pregnant then but the exam got pushed back to October 2020. By the time her exam rolled in, she was heavily pregnant. Unfortunately, she was not allowed to leave her seat or it would be considered cheating.
"I thought I would only be 28 weeks pregnant when I took the bar," Brianna told CNN. "However, due to the pandemic, the test was pushed to October and I was going to be 38 weeks. I joked about taking the test from my hospital bed. Lesson learned!"
She went into labor on October 5 in the middle of her exam; the original due date was October 19. "I started the second section and 15 to 20 minutes in, I started having contractions," said the 28-year-old told Good Morning America. "I had already asked for an accommodation to get up and go to the bathroom because I was 38 weeks pregnant and they said I'd get flagged for cheating. I couldn't leave the view of the camera."
"I was determined," the new mom said when asked why she didn't stop the exam. "Also, I've never been pregnant before, so I was [thinking], 'I don't know what this feels like.'" Women who have gone into labor can attest to how painful and nerve-wracking it can be.
"As soon as I stood up when I finished, I knew my water had broken," she told Above The Law. "So I took my break, got myself cleaned up, called my husband, midwife, and mom, cried because I was a little panicked, then sat down to take the MEE [Multistate Essay Exam]," she said. During the essay, her contractions started but she managed to finish it despite the pain.
By the end of the essay section, she was in active labor. "Going into labor really put the bar exam into perspective and made my nerves go away really quickly," she said.
The incredible mom gave birth only after part 1 of the exam got over. After finishing day one of the exam, she and her husband, Cameron Andrew, went to the West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Illinois. Her boy, Cassius Phillip Andrew, arrived, weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces that night.
However, her ordeal was not over as the second part of her exam was still pending on October 6. She was able to reserve a private room on the labor and delivery floor so she could complete the exam. The hospital even made sure that nobody enters her room during the duration of her exam.
"There were all these professional women supporting me and my professional goals, even though I just became a mother and it was their job to support me in that," the law graduate said of the medical staff to GMA.
"My biggest takeaway is that I have an incredible support system from my mom... I called my husband to tell him my water broke and he said, 'OK, we're going to figure out how you're going to finish this test' and all my law school friends texting saying, 'You got this,'" the new mom said.
While her story is rare and incredible, it brought into focus how the system can be improved for women. For instance, while Brianna was able to complete her test another woman had to forfeit when she got her period. She is not weak for giving up. Instead, the authorities in charge of the exam should have taken these matters into account.
Guess who got her period in the middle of the #barexam and had to leave camera view for a few minutes or bleed all over her dad’s really nice office chair? See y’all in February, I guess.— Cecelia Scheeler (@CeceliaScheeler) October 6, 2020
A State Senator of Brooklyn also called Brianna's situation "barbaric," which shows that institutions like these were not made keeping in mind women's needs. And, that's a shame in today's time.
This woman is such a champion.— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) October 11, 2020
However, this is barbaric:
Her water broke during Pt 1 of the exam. “I had already asked for an accommodation to get up and go to the bathroom because I was 38 weeks pregnant, and they said I'd get flagged for cheating.” https://t.co/grNa938RGy
Despite the problems faced by Brianna, this determined mom said, "I'm really thankful. Life throws curve balls at you but when I have a goal, I'm going to see it through."