Brittany Williams and her two children

For the Mamas: Keep chasing your dreams. You will catch them.

  • BY Kimberly Hawkins
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY Casey Rae Sampietro | Graphic Design by Gus Yoo
  • May 6, 2024

When Brittany Williams got pregnant during her senior year at Hayward High School, her dreams of going to college almost evaporated. Her own mother had Williams at the age of 18 and never finished high school. Was this her destiny as well? 

Wiliams wasn’t sure, but her mother and teachers had enough confidence and drive to buoy her. 

“High school was very hard for me. I let my grades decline, but with the help of many amazing teachers and the AVID [a college-prep] program, I was able to bring them up and start applying to schools,” Williams said.  “I was so excited to be the first one in my family to be applying and not just dreaming of going to university.”

Williams waited anxiously for any word from Cal State East Bay, her one shot at fulfilling her dreams. 

“I was offered an amazing grant by the school, and it was so close to my home that I knew I had a good chance and a good enough head on my shoulders not to let becoming a young mom get in the way,” said Williams. “So I started my journey at Cal State East Bay in 2020 with a newborn and then continued through COVID with my son who was a toddler and then in 2021 I welcomed my daughter. As hard as it sounds — it was! But I’ve had an amazing support system at home with my husband and family as well as at school with all my professors and my EOP counselor. Being at CSUEB is what made this achievement for me possible.”

Though the path to her degree had obstacles, Williams says she took every opportunity to learn both in and out of the classroom.

“My children have taught me I have patience — lots and lots of patience, but most of all they taught me I'm much stronger and smarter than I think I am sometimes,” says Williams. “I would love for them to know that every sleepless night spent breastfeeding and typing essays, every break in between classes that I spent pumping in the library nursing room, all of that was so worth it, and I hope they don’t forget the obstacles their mom went through to be the first in our family to graduate and the first on their way to getting their master’s.”

On May 11, Williams will receive her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in college prep. She says she was inspired by all of the amazing educators she had in the Hayward Unified School District who wouldn’t let her give up.  

As she walks across the commencement stage on May 11, Williams says the moment will not only belong to her, but to her mother. William’s father died just days after her birth. At the age of 2, her mother moved them from Mexico to the United States and has never stopped encouraging Williams to keep learning. 

“She has been my motivation and my rock through this entire journey, and this is her achievement as well,” said Williams. “I can’t wait to finish and see my family’s faces as this is an accomplishment for all of us. My husband Bryan dropped out of college to support our family and has made such an amazing career for himself while helping to financially and emotionally support my dreams.”

Williams says her husband’s family is equally excited to see her achieve this momentous goal since until now, their family has also never had a college grad.

“I’m so excited to share this with everyone,” said Williams.