Following years of 8 a.m. classes, hours of homework, plenty of all-night study sessions, and countless gallons of coffee, 11 women are close to reaching their education goal: graduating from law school. To mark the achievement, the Elon University students posed for a “little black dress”-themed photo shoot, which has captured the hearts of the internet.
Ashley Williams, one of the women set to get her Juris Doctor degree in December, shares with Yahoo Lifestyle that the North Carolina natives, who are part of the largest group of African-American women graduating from Elon Law, were inspired to collaborate on a photo shoot together to celebrate their accomplishments. “We are all friends, we have Sunday dinner together, we also study together. So we spend a lot of time with one another,” she shares.
This support system has helped Anika Bailey, 24, overcome challenges. “Our law school is a predominately white institution, so there aren’t many people in our school who look like us or can understand what challenges we face as women of color seeking to enter the legal profession,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We shared the pictures to spread positivity and maybe inspire a few people.”
“We never expected it to go viral,” says Williams. “We worked hard to push one another through school. Now, this is the outcome.”
The 25-year-old says that besides the 11 women photographed, there are seven other women from their crew who are not pictured but who will also walk the graduation stage Dec. 16.
The photographer responsible for the viral photos is Kendall Williams, 26, of One Vision Studios, LLC. When he shared the images on Instagram, he wrote, “the epitome of black girl magic. They are entering a white male-dominated profession to increase the 5 percent of African-American in the legal profession. Many said they couldn’t do it but here they are!”
The photographer tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he was inspired “to celebrate a group of law students that are not only black but are also young women that make up a small percentage of people in their industry. My inspiration was women achievements and black excellence.”
“As we began discussing what we were going to do, we realized that the pictures meant so much more than a typical graduation picture,” he says. “Most of the girls are the first in their families to obtain a professional degree, so they wanted to commemorate the occasion with a positive image.”
Congratulations to the Elon Law class of 2017.
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