To The Very Best of Her Ability

Jan Morgan-Swegle, Editor

I have often said that our children married wonderful people and I truly mean that.  Jon, our son-in-law, is a devoted husband and father.  He is talented and has created a safe, strong, family centered environment for his children and his Scottish roots are close to mine.

Marie, one of our daughters-in-law, incorporates her Lebanese heritage into our family with food.  She is a successful business woman who was the first female to be promoted to the rank of Vice President in her male dominated company.

And then, there’s Brenda.  Brenda is small and funny and has the greatest laugh.  She is a dedicated wife and mother and on January 5, 2023, she will make history when she is sworn in as a Circuit Court Judge for the 10th judicial circuit for the state of Florida—the first Hispanic woman to have ever achieved this honor.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to find out more about the twists and turns of fate that influenced Brenda and led her to the judge’s chamber.

I asked Brenda if being a judge was a dream come true.  She said, “No, not really.  I  decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was around fourteen, but I wasn’t sure I could do it.  When I was growing up, not a lot of girls looked like me or grew up like me.  I didn’t have any role models.  I grew up in a time when there weren’t that many Hispanic people in professional roles.”

Brenda continued, “My mother was a nurse, but she came to that role while I was growing up.  I watched her work, go to school, take care of the house and my sister and I.  I began to understand the importance of school and how staying in high school and going on to college would lead to a better life.”

I wanted to know if Brenda’s father contributed to her following her dreams and goals.  She responded, “My father was supportive of my dream to become an attorney.  He knew that meant college and beyond, so he often worked 3 jobs to support our family and our dreams.  No only that, he and my mother worked together.  If she was at school or working and he was at home, he cooked the family meal.  They coordinated their schedules so that one of them was always home with us.   He taught my sister and I practical things—like car maintenance, so we wouldn’t have to depend on others.  He encouraged me to keep going and follow my dreams. He did the same for my sister, she’s a doctor now.”

Brenda will begin her term in Family Court and stay in that role for at least 2 years.  She said, “I’m not afraid of this challenge.  I have the skills to do this.  I was a Prosecutor for the State of Florida for over 3 years and then I went into private practice.”

I asked Brenda to give some advice to our Teen Scene audience and all of the students in our readership.  She said, “Keep focused on school.  Try to stay on a good path.  Life can take you down many different roads, where you end up is up to you.”

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg once said, “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

On January 5, I will witness history.  I will watch our son, who will be very proud of his wife.   I will watch our granddaughters celebrate the achievements of their mother and role model—someone who uses her talents,  lives her life and does her work to the very best of her ability.





Editor-Cape Fear Voices (Jan Morgan-Swegle)