Brianna Hill, a recent graduate of Loyola University’s School of Law in Chicago, went in to take the Illinois bar exam on Oct. 5 knowing it would be different than she’d ever imagined.
2020 had already thrown a few curveballs into the process. First, the exam was rescheduled from July 28 to Oct. 5-6. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the date change, as well as a venue switch. Hill would take the test over two days as a virtual exam, with two 90-minute sessions per day.
Under ordinary circumstances, these changes would cause any student some stress. But, for the pregnant Hill, the postponement meant she’d be much closer to her due date than she anticipated.
Hill posted a photo to Facebook in early September looking happy and relaxed with less than a month until the exam.
So when the test date arrived, the expectant mom went into day one of her bar exam feeling good about her prospects.
“I was ready to go — confident,” Hill told NBC5 Chicago.
She sat down in her home office to take the first part of the exam under the close scrutiny of an “artificial intelligence proctor.” That’s when her water broke and her labor began.
Hill did not movie from her chair, though. If any student leaves the view of the virtual proctor, he or she could be disqualified. So, she continued writing her legal arguments until her first testing break.
But Hill, 28, wasn’t about to stop the exam at that point.
“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 second part because my midwife told me I had time before I needed to go to the hospital,” she told CNN.
In fact, she completed the rest of the first day’s testing and then finally went to the hospital. A few hours later, she gave birth to her son Cassius Phillip Andrew. Both mom and son are healthy.
However, there was still a second day of the bar exam to go. Hill wondered how she would finish it. The staff at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park quickly prepared a private room for the new mom.
“I woke up and they set up a spare room for me,” she told NBC5. “They put a ‘Do not enter’ sign on there.”
Hill went on to finish the bar exam. She won’t know her results until December, but she’ll surely never forget how two of the biggest events in her life came together at the same time. Word quickly spread of her determination and strength on social media.
Hill says she is simply grateful for all the people who made her achievement possible.
“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 told CNN. “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.”
Congrats to the new mom and — hopefully — new lawyer!
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