This past week everyone was focused on the 2016 Presidential election. However, on November 8, 2016, there were also local elections conducted as well. In my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, Melissa Powers won her election and became the next judge for juvenile court.
HC: What college did you attend and what was your major? Why did you choose this path?
Powers: At first I got my degree in art education from the University of Cincinnati (UC). Teachers were not getting hired in that particular field, but I needed a way to support myself. So I went to law school at UC. All I had to do was have a four-year degree, take the LSATs and submit an application.
HC: Describe your career please.
Powers: Well in college I worked at a supermarket to support myself. Then in law school I did local freelance modeling. After I graduated from law school I worked as an attorney. I was the assistant prosecutor in multiple divisions. Then I became chief assistant in the municipal division. In 2006, I became a judge in Hamilton County, Ohio.
HC: What made you run for juvenile court judge?
Powers: After ten years of working as a judge for adults, I thought I could make a greater difference in helping children in the community.
HC: Did you face any major obstacles as a woman in your field?
Powers: When I graduated law school in 1991, there were only five women working in the office, including me. The job interview included questions about having more children and taking time off. This was a challenge because it was seen as losing work and important cases. One obstacle included initially getting the job. Another obstacle after being hired was being in the court room with male colleagues and judges. They were used to an older attitude towards women. Choosing to believe in the notion, women belong at home instead of the workplace. I had to face hazing by male colleagues because they did not have respect for working women.
Not only did I have to face obstacles as a woman, but I also had to overcome the stereotype of a blonde. In fact during murder trials, I used to dye my hair darker. I had a reputation to build. However because the men underestimated me, I was able to outperform them. In one year I won thirteen out of sixteen jury trials.
When I was growing up my options were mainly teacher, nurse, or secretary. Now the courtroom consists of an equal percentage of females and males. There are still obstacles today, but less than when I was beginning my career.
HC: Do you have any advice for young women?
Powers: Work hard and never give up.
HC: What are your favorite hobbies?
Powers: Painting, reading, cycling, and gardening.
HC: One interesting fact about you?
Powers: I won Miss Cincinnati in high school.
As a young woman, I think it is very important to listen and follow other inspirational women in our society. Powers accomplished countless challenges throughout her career. She has done wonders for the community in and out of the courtroom. As mentioned above, there were and still are obstacles women face today. For so long Powers helped adults, but now she wants to focus her talents on children and teens in order to better our world. She is an example to everyone, work hard and persevere. You will succeed. We need to continue on our path and secure a successful future for ourselves, other women and the next generation as well.