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Southern University graduate makes Alabama history as youngest African-American female judge

Briana Westry-Robinson (Source: WFSA) Briana Westry-Robinson (Source: WFSA)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A Southern University graduate made history in Alabama.

It’s not because she owned a private law practice in Camden, Alabama or because she’s the former Assistant District Attorney of Selma; Briana Westry-Robinson is currently a district judge in Wilcox County and now the youngest African American female judge in Alabama.

Our sister station, WSFA 12 News, reports that Briana Westry-Robinson became a district judge in Wilcox County after voters elected her in November. She will serve a six year term.

"It feels wonderful, the outpouring of support I've received from everyone," said Westry-Robinson.

At only 28-years-old, Westry- Robinson says she decided sitting behind the bench was her future after a district judge came to her elementary school for career day. "I went home and told my mom I wanted to be a district court judge and that's where the dream was first sparked," said Westry-Robinson.

That spark led Westry-Robinson from her home state of Alabama to Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, where she graduated in 2013. Chancellor of the law center, John Pierre, says Westry-Robinson easily put in 12 to 15 hours of work per day to develop her skills, adding that she followed the school’s model for becoming a dedicated lawyer and judge. They call it, "Seriousness of Purpose."

"She is that kind of potential leader, she could have a transformational effect on Alabama and the future and she could be a role model for many young people in Alabama, to have them realize what their potential is," said Pierre.

However, living up to that potential and dream didn’t come without adversity. Some voters in Wilcox County question her ability, based on her age.

"Even though I may be young, I plan to follow the law and I have common sense. So more than anything, I plan to rely on the fact that I know the law and plan to rely on my common sense, and I’m very appreciative of those that believe in me and gave me the opportunity to prove myself," said Westry-Robinson.

As the daughter of a lawyer, Westry-Robinson says this platform is for the youth of Camden. She wants to expand their minds and help them reach their full potential. "In whatever it is you think that you can do, you can actually do it. All it takes is hard work and consistency, because I’m not finished, there’s more I want to do. Your dreams should scare you. It seems scary, but it’s also very realistic and possible," said Westry-Robinson.

When asked how she feels now that everyone refers to her as "judge," she replied, "You know, at first I was like, 'No, it's Briana, it's okay you can call me Briana,' but I’m kind of getting used to it. It has a nice ring to it."

Westry-Robinson was born in Germany and graduated from the University of Alabama. She then attended Southern University in Baton Rouge where she earned her law degree. Her first day on the bench is Thursday, January 26.

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