Paying it Forward

Judge Demetra Robinson, of the Commerce Municipal Court, began her educational career in the way of many. As an 18-year-old mother with low self-esteem and increasing obligations on her and husband John’s time, college didn’t seem feasible. Later, after a failed attempt and growing health concerns in her family, it seemed like higher education might be permanently out of reach, but her resolve never failed.
“During my third semester at Northeast Texas Community College, one of my children started having problems in school; he was in first grade which is a critical age. He was learning how to read during a time they had stopped teaching phonics, and he was really struggling. I withdrew from school so that I could help my children succeed in school—always with the determination that I would one day return and obtain a degree,” Robinson said.
With times changing and technology playing a larger, more integral role in higher education, Robinson was able to pursue her Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the College of Business and Entrepreneurship online at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The online degree program allowed her to balance the commitments of family life with the yearning to learn, broaden her horizons, and pursue her career aspirations.
“A&M-Commerce’s program allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream. The university made this goal a reality,” Robinson said. “The significance of that dream realized did not hit me until my graduation day. The moment I entered the auditorium for graduation and I heard the music, the tears started flowing.”
And Judge Robinson has not stopped there. In addition to her post of 13 years as Commerce Municipal Court Judge, she continues to pursue further education and an active ministry. She has also bestowed opportunities for professional growth on several A&M-Commerce students. Robinson hired interns from the university into her court to work as clerks and gain unparalleled experience to launch them into their chosen careers.
“They’ve all been great. Maria Terry was a little tornado with a thirst to learn. Elizabeth Vela was a great asset as a bilingual intern with a knack for explaining our laws and regulations to our community members. And Chelsea Stanley was a breath of fresh air with a great attitude,” said Robinson.
Elizabeth Vela recalled, “The first thought you have is how a judge would be serious and strict because of their position. I was nervous, but she was the complete opposite; she is fair and outgoing. She loves everyone and tries to make sure everyone has a fair shake, and I absolutely loved that about her. Everything I did in my internship, I actually do now in my current position.”
In a professional world where employers require experience before many students have an opportunity or the skills to gain it, Judge Demetra Robinson reaches out a hand to the university and brings students onboard. Although she struggled with her early opportunities in education, she has found a fulfilling role and offers her interns inroads to the same contentment and success.