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Pathways To The Bench (Video Series)

In the video series Pathways to the Bench, individual judges talk about the personal, character-building challenges in their lives that prepared them to serve on the bench. Each judge has a motivational message for others, especially young people, who face obstacles on the path to reaching their goals.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. District Court Judge Julie A. RobinsonU.S. District Court Judge Julie A. Robinson’s journey to the federal bench in Topeka, KS, started when, at the age of five, she decided to become a lawyer. She credits her success to her father’s faith in her and the fact that her mentors set high standards and demanded the best from her. Judge Robinson tells young people: “You never can dream big enough, sometimes. You can never really know all that is in store for you."

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U.S. District Court Judge Julie A. Robinson X

U.S. District Court Judge Julie A. Robinson

U.S. District Court Judge Julie A. Robinson’s journey to the federal bench in Topeka, KS, started when, at the age of five, she decided to become a lawyer. She credits her success to her father’s faith in her and the fact that her mentors set high standards and demanded the best from her. Judge Robinson tells young people: “You never can dream big enough, sometimes. You can never really know all that is in store for you."

Pathways To The Bench:  U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. GouldNinth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould, of Seattle, does not let multiple sclerosis dampen his passion for justice. He focuses on strengths that transcend his wheelchair confinement and he gives others the opportunity to move beyond their limits. As Judge Gould puts it: "If somebody is enthusiastic about what they want to accomplish -- if they have a passion for it -- they have a chance of achieving it."

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Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould X

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould

Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould, of Seattle, does not let multiple sclerosis dampen his passion for justice. He focuses on strengths that transcend his wheelchair confinement and he gives others the opportunity to move beyond their limits.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. ThompsonU.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson, of Montgomery, Ala., pushed past the paralysis of childhood polio to live an active life, excel in academics and become – at age 33 – one of the youngest people appointed to the federal bench. He says he has learned, "Always be prepared for the unexpected, because you'll never know when it will hit you."

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District Judge Myron H. Thompson X

U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson

U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson, of Montgomery, Ala., pushed past the paralysis of childhood polio to live an active life, excel in academics and become – at age 33 – one of the youngest people appointed to the federal bench. He says he has learned, "Always be prepared for the unexpected, because you'll never know when it will hit you."

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny ChinU.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, of New York City, is a naturalized citizen. From his grandfather, a waiter, and his father, a cook in Hell’s Kitchen, Chin adopted a work ethic that elevated him to the federal bench. As a federal judge, Chin now presides over the kind of naturalization ceremonies that made three generations of his family U.S. citizens.

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U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin X

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, of New York City, is a naturalized citizen. From his grandfather, a waiter, and his father, a cook in Hell’s Kitchen, Chin adopted a work ethic that elevated him to the federal bench. As a federal judge, Chin now presides over the kind of naturalization ceremonies that made three generations of his family U.S. citizens.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. District Court Judge Maria ValdezU.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez didn't go right to college. She worked for a year – and kept working – to put herself through college and law school. She doesn't consider her journey unusual because today's students face many of the same challenges. Her advice? Keep going even when you don't know if you can make it.

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Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez X

Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez didn't go right to college. She worked for a year – and kept working – to put herself through college and law school. She doesn't consider her journey unusual because today's students face many of the same challenges. Her advice? Keep going even when you don't know if you can make it.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey P. HopkinsU.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal was born in a World War II refugee camp after his mother and sister escaped eastern Poland. His mother immigrated with her two children to the United States. Today, when Judge Singal presides over naturalization ceremonies, he shares his story and invites new citizens to take advantage of their new opportunities.

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U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal X

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal was born in a WWII refugee camp after his mother and sister escaped eastern Poland. His mother immigrated with her two children to the United States. Today, when Judge Singal presides over naturalization ceremonies, he shares his story and invites new citizens to take advantage of their new opportunities.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey P. HopkinsAt an early age, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins took risks and got out of his comfort zone to ask for the help of supportive adults. He reminds young people that many adults want to be part of their success story, too. The judge encourages anyone with goals to show an interest, work hard, and seek the guidance of others.

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U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins X

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins

At an early age, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery P. Hopkins took risks and got out of his comfort zone to ask for the help of supportive adults. He reminds young people that many adults want to be part of their success story, too. The judge encourages anyone with goals to show an interest, work hard, and seek the guidance of others.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. GregoryMany federal judges have been touched by the Civil Rights Movement in their youth. Meet U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. Gregory, who says that the struggle taught him that every challenge in his young life lifted him up and still helps him lift others along the way.

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U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. Gregory X

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. Gregory

Many federal judges have been touched by the Civil Rights Movement in their youth. Meet U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. Gregory who says that the struggle taught him that every challenge in his young life lifted him up and still helps him lift others along the way.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann C. WilliamsJudge Ann C. Williams, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, says that each generation stands on the shoulders of people who went before them. She credits her parents' example for her preparation to serve on the federal bench, and looks to trailblazers like the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall for inspiration.

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U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann C. Williams X

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann C. Williams

Judge Ann C. Williams, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, says that each generation stands on the shoulders of people who went before them. She credits her parents' example for her preparation to serve on the federal bench, and looks to trailblazers like the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall for inspiration.

Pathways To The Bench: U.S. District Court Judge Virginia KendallU.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall kept moving forward through loss and challenges on her journey to the federal bench. Kendall talks about the importance of believing in herself, digging deep, and accepting the support of family and friends along the way to becoming a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

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U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall X

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall kept moving forward through loss and challenges on her journey to the federal bench. Kendall talks about the importance of believing in her goals, digging deep and accepting the support of family and friends along the way to becoming a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

Supreme Court Conversation on the Constitution: Jury ServiceMagistrate Judge Arlander Keys rose from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the federal bench by educating himself, persevering and working hard. Keys shares his perspectives on his life – from his time in the Marines and law school, to eventually becoming a federal magistrate judge.

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Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys X

Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys

Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys rose from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the federal bench by educating himself, persevering and working hard. Keys shares his perspectives on his life – from his time in the Marines and law school, to eventually becoming a federal magistrate judge.