Crowley ISD Connections Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 7

Alumni Spotlight Honorable Melody McDonald Wilkinson, Crowley High School, Class of 1981 The 17th District Court of Texas judge has collected many professional honors and awards in the span of her established law career. She is a great leader in our justice system, serving as president of the Texas Association of District Judges. Wilkinson has also previously been president of the Tarrant County Bar Association, Texas Young Lawyers Association and Fort Worth-Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association, as well as chair of the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. What are your best memories from growing up in Crowley? Wilkinson: “I enjoyed twirling the baton at Friday night football games and pep rallies. I began twirling the baton at H.F. Stevens Middle School and continued through my four years in college. However, the camaraderie that I had with my classmates and teachers was the best part of my experience at Crowley ISD. There were quite a few of us when we graduated who had known each other since kindergarten and grade school. Periodically, I still get together with my classmates or teachers. Facebook has been a great tool for organizing gatherings and catching up.” Wilkinson (left) was a baton twirler at Crowley High School and continued to twirl for four years at Angelo State University. Who were some of your influential teachers? Wilkinson: “I had wonderful teachers at Bess Race Elementary, H.F. Stevens Middle School and Crowley High School. My experiences with my teachers in Crowley ISD were so positive that I was torn whether to become a teacher or a lawyer. I am teacher-certified in secondary English and Government. Interestingly, I never taught and instead went immediately to law school following graduation from college. Some of my favorite high school teachers included Ann Tyler, Barbara Crowley, Janet Henderson, Peggy Dietz and band director, Layton Keith. They, along with other teachers, were formative in creating the ideas, beliefs and values that embody the adult that I am today.” 14 CROWLEY ISD CONNECTIONS | Summer 2017 Wilkinson posing with her children - Emily, Ned and Elizabeth - and her mother, Bonnie McDonald. When did you know you wanted to practice law? Wilkinson: “I always knew I either wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer. When I was 5 years old, my grandmother told me that I liked to argue so much that I should be a lawyer. Despite being the first in my family to graduate from college, I always remembered my grandmother’s words about becoming a lawyer. Beginning at age 14, I began working for law firms in the summers. I ran errands and performed general office duties. It is hard for me to believe that I filed papers at the courthouse in the 1970s and 1980s, and today I have the honor and privilege of going to work at the courthouse every day as judge of the 17th District Court.” What is it like to be a judge? Wilkinson: “Being a judge is a great job! One of the best parts about being a lawyer is going to trial. One of the best parts about being a judge is that you have lots of trials. Every day on the bench is different. People have unique disputes. It is rewarding knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives. I enjoy carefully listening to the facts of a case and making decisions. I particularly enjoy interacting with juries and helping people find closure in their disputes.” Submit your Alumni Spotlight suggestions to CROWLEY ISD CONNECTIONS | Summer 2017 7