CHICAGO (CBS) —A video of a Bronzeville lawyer discovering that she passed the Illinois Bar Exam has gone viral on Facebook.
“I’ve only wanted to be an attorney,” Arielle Williams told CBS 2. “It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
The first person on her mother’s side to graduate from college, Williams, who grew up in Englewood, received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work from the University of Illinois, taking out student loans and sometimes working two jobs.
After graduation, Williams moved to Atlanta, where she applied to eight laws schools. When she did not get in, Williams retook the LSATs, re-applied to programs, and was accepted to every law school that received her application.
Williams earned her law degree from DePaul University.
“I’m here right now because of my passion,” Williams said. “Because of my drive.”
Williams’ commute to Stone & Associates in Waukegan, where she is now an associate, takes 90 minutes each way. But she is not complaining. “I knew that I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney,” she explained, and she is thrilled to work with Jed Stone.
Williams told CBS 2 she was hesitant to be recorded as she learned the results of the bar exam but is pleased that the video has inspired others.
“I’m just happy that it touched so many people,” she said. “There is so much positivity.”
Williams’ colleague behind the camera, Deidra Collins, is no stranger to overcoming challenges. A mother at 14, Collins told CBS 2 that the message she received from some of the adults in her life at that time was that she “wouldn’t become anything.”
Collins went on to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and is now an office manager and paralegal at Stone & Associates. 10 years after becoming a young mother, Collins also founded Women Enuff, an organization that empowers “teenage girls and women to realize their own self-worth.”
Collins’ premonition that a video of Williams passing the bar would strike a chord with others proved correct. In about a week the video, posted to Facebook, has been viewed over 3 million times.
“You will never know how much your response to the results of your efforts just gave me life!!! Watching you makes me so hopeful of my future of not passing the BAR but getting past my fear and pursing my dream!! Thank you for this!! Blessings to you and an abundance of success to you!!” posted Facebook user Kim Durden.
“I don’t know you but I’m crying with her. She made me feel like I passed lol congratulations beautiful. Go be the best lawyer you could be,” posted another Facebook user.
Williams said her loved ones continue to cheer her on. “My family has been celebrating since I graduated from law school.” The next party is already being planned for November, when Williams will participate in the Bar Admission Ceremony.
(Video credit: Deidra Collins)