DES MOINES, Iowa - For Drake University senior, Brytani Cavil, the college experience has been a whirlwind.
"I found out that I was pregnant my freshman year, second semester," she said. "And that was...shocking, to say the least."
Discovering she was pregnant during freshman-year finals was stressful enough - finding out she had twins was even wilder.
"And that was dramatic," she said. "Traumatic, probably. Finding out that, not only are you pregnant - like, 'Okay, you're pregnant.' But finding out there's two babies inside of you that you have to take care of."
Cavil wanted to be a good mom to her sons, Kory and Kyson; she also wanted that degree she came to Drake for.
"At that moment, I had to make a decision," she said. "Like, am I going to stay at Drake, or am I going to go home?"
It wasn't an easy choice, but she chose to balance the life of a single mother with one of a stressed out college student. And she didn't stop there - Cavil has been an involved student, even serving as president of the Coalition of Black Students at Drake. She credits these student organizations for keeping her sanity.
"I would say that has been my family on-campus, and because I was a part of that organization, it made me staying here a lot better," she said.
Her record of leadership, along with her story of success, has earned her a speech in front of the class of 2016 at Drake's commencement ceremony this weekend.
"She is a student of color, who has defied a lot of the odds that the rest of us don't necessarily think about," said Carol Spaulding-Kruse, an English Professor at Drake, and a mentor to Cavil. "And we want that to be more and more the case at Drake, we don't just want Brytani to be the exception. So we really hope that message resonates."
Cavil hopes her speech Saturday inspires others who may be facing similar obstacles.
"So, I want other females that may be in that same boat as me, to know their dreams are not crushed just because they got pregnant," she said. "And to know that they can still push on, they can still succeed, they can still defy those stereotypes."
She swears by it: surrounding yourself with a support group makes a world of difference, when you're balancing two worlds.
"If anyone wants to change the world, or wants to make a monumental change, you can't do it alone; you can't do it by yourself," she said. "And my story is a testament of that."