All photos by: Richard Holman Photography
33-year-old Ieshia Champs is about to graduate from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law next month. To mark the special occasion, the Port Arthur, Texas native took graduation photos with her five children, whom she raises as a single parent.
Champs’ journey to law school has been anything but easy. Growing up, she endured foster care and moved around to different family homes as a result of her mother’s drug addiction. When Champs was about 7-years-old, child protective service worker, Gail Covington, exposed Champs and her siblings to a different type of lifestyle, one that made Champs want to help people the way Covington helped her. Champs’ teacher suggested she become a lawyer. However, after being adopted by her maternal uncle, she and her siblings returned to the environment they were once taken away from when they moved back in with their mother.
“We really didn’t have much guidance,” Champs shared in a Yahoo interview. “My sister ended up having her first baby at 14. I ended up dropping out of school my 10th or 11th grade year, and I ran across my kid’s father. We ended up having our first child (Champs was 19), and then we had a second. And it just kept going.”
With her fourth child on the way, Champs’ sister convinced her to go to church. Little did she know she would meet Louise Holman, a prophetess who told her that God wanted her to go back to school to earn her GED so that she could achieve of dream of becoming a lawyer. “She told me that God would take care of me,” Champs said.
“During that same year — it was 2009 — I ended up having a house fire, I lost everything that I had. I got laid off from my job, the father to two of my children died of cancer while I was seven months pregnant, I literally tried to kill myself, and I ended up going back to get my GED,” Champs said.
After obtaining her GED, Champs went on to receive an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Houston Community College, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston. Now, in May, she’ll have a Juris Doctor degree.
Richard Holman is not only Champs’ Bishop but he’s also the photographer behind the now viral graduation photo shoot. “He’s a professional photographer, and he knows my story. So I wanted him to be very active in that,” Champs said.
“I feel like with what I’ve been through as a child and in my upbringing, I can probably help some of these juveniles who may feel like there’s no hope for them,” Champs expressed. “I want to be the one to fight for those children who are in these horrible living arrangements. To try to help them reconcile with the family, or if not, give them the same opportunity that I had.”
Champs plans to specialize in family and juvenile law and later become a judge.
Congratulations, Ieshia! You did it!