‘You can’t give up’ – Nigerian mom of four passes California bar exam after 10 years

Ama Nunoo February 11, 2021
Evelyn Uba seen wearing red flanked by her husband and four children. Photo: Naeche Vincent/GMA

Most people migrate to America with their idea of what the American dream should be and for Evelyn Uba, hers was to be a lawyer. After nearly a decade of financial hardships, late nights, raising a family, and failing the bar exams numerous times, Uba finally passed the California bar exam this January.

Her story is one that shows that persistence and perseverance yield results no matter how long it takes. Now news of her success has gone viral after her daughter posted a celebratory video on Twitter of when they received the news.

Uba and her family migrated to the United States from Nigeria when she was 18 years old and her dream was to pursue law but as life would have it, her father suffered a stroke not long after settling in the US. Then little by little, the dream of being a lawyer pushed further away but Uba never let go of it.

Within the long hiatus, Uba got married and had four children. It was when her last child was two years old that she decided it was about time to pick up her law school dream.

The full-time career mother enrolled in the California Southern Law School in 2005 and graduated in 2011 while working as a welfare professional to finance her education. Now, the uphill task to pass the California bar exam began. Even though she failed every time she took the exam, she never gave up because she made a vow to herself and her father years before he died to be a lawyer. California Bar exam is noted to be one of the most difficult ones to pass in the 50 states and most people finally pass after many attempts.

“I took the exam more than ten times,” Uba told GMA. “I stopped counting after a while but giving up certainly wasn’t in my dictionary.”

Her family has been very supportive throughout her journey and even when she wanted to throw in the towel, they were constant reminders as to why she began the journey in the first place. Uba sadly had to miss out on a lot of things in her children’s lives but all of it makes the journey worth it.

“My daughter, Naeche, once said to me, ‘Mom, if you give up now, you can’t get your time back. Then what would you have gained out of all the missed time you could’ve spent with us?’ So that always stuck in my head and I knew the only time I’d give up is when I’m dead,” Uba said.

She wrote the recent bar exam last October, thinking the story was going to be the same. But on January 8, when the results came, she realized that her efforts over the last ten years had paid off. She passed.

“I started jumping up and down,” she said. “I had so many reasons to give up, but I knew I just had to keep pushing. I felt so relieved.”

Uba’s sigh of relief and excitement was captured on phone and Naeche shared it on Twitter with the caption, “my mom finished law school in 2011 and has been studying for the California BAR exam while raising 4 kids & working full time for the past 10 years. today? SHE PASSED THE BAR!!!!! THAT’S ESQUIRE NOW!”

In the viral video which has since received over 400,000 views, Uba is seen kissing a portrait of her father and telling him she did this for him.

Uba hopes her story inspires people to never give up on their dreams no matter how long it takes or feels. “Eventually it’s going to happen when God says it’ll happen,” she said. “It might not be easy but you just have to keep going and never feel sorry for yourself.”

Now a certified attorney at law, Uba plans on working in criminal defense to help people from low-income families and marginalized communities.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 11, 2021


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