A Letter to My Grandma
Brielle F. Tucker is an associate at Bush Ross, P.A. She recently completed a federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable Roberta A. Colton in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. She graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2019 and received her B.S. in Criminology from University of Tampa in 2015.
In March 2019, at the Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc.'s Pilot Program graduation, Brielle F. Tucker gave a graduation speech in the form of a beautiful letter to her grandmother. Brielle, who currently serves on the nonprofit's board of directors for Journey to Esquire, was a 3L law student at the Stetson University College of Law.
I have to give a presentation about my experience as a Diversity Access Pipeline Scholar. [It] is a new program that I was blessed to be a part of this year.
I know what you’re thinking: "Baby girl, how do you have the time to do anything else?”
Well, that’s exactly what I wanted to tell you. This program has taught me the true meaning of balance. I’m not just talking about the work-life balance that people always ask about, but this idea that you can truly indeed have it all.
Since you’ve been gone, I’ve accomplished much more than you or I ever imagined. After graduating with honors and a Dean’s List distinction from the University of Tampa, that’s right I moved to Florida, I decided that Tampa Bay was my new home.
After graduation, I worked as a Staffing Manager for the world’s largest staffing company, and loved it! So much so that I realized that talking to businesses about their needs was kind of my thing. My analytical abilities that I credit you for since we spent hours trying to solve jigsaw puzzles made me know that I had to put that inquisitive nature to use.
So - in just 59 days - I will be graduating from Stetson University College of Law.
Balance is defined as keeping things in a steady position so that it does not fall. During my tenure at Stetson, I’ve done a lot: Ambassador, Member of Moot Court, Trial Team, SBA (Student Bar Association) Rep, Ms. JD Fellow, Sub Regional Director of SrBLSA [(Southern Region of the Black Law Students Association), Judicial Intern to the Honorable Judge Honeywell, a [Diversity Access Pipeline] Scholar and yet – I have not fallen.
I like to stay busy, and I admit I was worried about balancing the rigors of law practice, bar associations, and outside organizations. But [the Program] finally made me realize that I indeed can have it all.
You see, we had modules that covered every concern I had about law practice, and even those concerns I didn’t know I had. In our wellness module, I learned several tips to survive a busy workday. Such as taking the stairs when I have to skip leg day or making a morning routine that works for me. The beginning of the presentation gave a lot of insight into the importance of taking those small breaks. Small moments such as walking to the water-cooler may seem simple, but effective because we often forget how much time we spend staring at a screen.
I also enjoyed learning about [judicial] clerkships, which would be the opportunity to work under a judge and contribute to the judicial decision-making process. I’ve met and networked with current [law] clerks and those who have had clerkships and gone on to do great things.
We even had a module where we talked to solo-practitioners. Now I know you always said, “Baby, you be your own boss,” and while I admit I’ve never given any thought to owning my own firm, it was amazing to see people that look like us, doing that and doing well.
One of the other great things about [the Program] is that while learning all of these amazing words of encouragement and advice, I was usually able to do it virtually through video conferences. The flexible nature of the program allowed me to stay on top of all of my other obligations and [the Program].
We write reflections after every module, and Grandma, I want to share with you a few lines from one of my first reflections. On December 2nd, I wrote, “In a couple of years, I know I will feel successful when I have a career that makes me excited to want to go into the office. There are several obstacles I am sure to face along the way. A huge obstacle will, in fact, be my own self-doubt. I relate strongly to what has been interpreted as “impostor syndrome.” However, as we have just finished the module on mentoring, I find it necessary to say that I feel blessed to have several mentors who have been able to help me through this feeling of self-doubt. Most of my mentors are black professional women who have, like me, faced adversity on their journey toward success. I seek their guidance and advice, usually to vent or talk about what’s going on. I owe a great deal of my law school success to these women who have always answered my call, planned to grab a bite, returned a missed call, or sometimes even "face-timed" just to check-in.
Grandma, although you’re no longer here, and I know I could always depend on you to lift me up when I felt down, this program has allowed me to still have that. I’ve met colleagues and mentors throughout the program whose friendship is invaluable.
After passing the Bar in July, yes, as you taught me I am speaking it into existence, I will be a new associate at Bush Ross in Tampa, FL. I am thrilled to be the first attorney in our family, the first one to attend and complete any type of graduate studies, but most importantly, to be your granddaughter. This road has not been easy, but I thank God because the journey was worth it.
Thank you, Diversity Access Pipeline and all of our sponsors and supporters. We are truly fortunate to be the first inaugural class, and I know from everything we’ve learned, we will truly have it all.
Journey to Esquire Graduation
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Joseline J. Hardrick is the Founder and President of Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc. She is also an author, professor, and lawyer and resides in Tampa Bay, Florida.