Kimberley Wallace says she was one of those kids who drives a parent crazy, asking question after question after question. She remembers her mother saying to her, ‘One day you’re going to be a lawyer.’
Her mother was right. Today, Kimberley works in the Albany County Public Defender’s Office, while she puts together plans to open her own law firm with a fellow Sage graduate.
The road from being the overly inquisitive kid to a successful attorney wasn’t an easy one. When Kimberley first arrived on the Sage campus, she had only recently moved to this country from Jamaica. She felt overwhelmed, intimidated and more than a little lost.
It wasn’t long, however, before those concerns were replaced with something much more positive – the belief that she could achieve her dreams.
Kimberley names two members of the Sage community as instrumental in this transformation. Derek Westbrook, former head of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, “took a chance on me,” going the extra mile to help Kimberley get into the program. Associate Professor of Law & Society Bobbi Gabrenya, J.D., “took me under her wing and flew me to where I am today.”
Kimberley chose Law & Society as her major at first because she liked the way it included psychology and criminology. The idea of becoming a lawyer came later. “Bobbi was a big part of that decision,” Kimberley says. “She had so much energy, she was electrifying. I wanted to be like her one day.”
Her law classes at Sage, Kimberley remembers, were hard. And great preparation. “I’ve told this to Bobbi,” she says. “Some of my first year law school classes weren’t as difficult as hers. In fact, I did better in law school than I did in college, thanks to the great preparation I had.”
Kimberley comes back to campus regularly, to talk to students, and to give back. “Sage has been the foundation of everything I am and hope to be,” she says. “I tell the students, ‘Don’t give up, even when the challenges get rough. Because it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters.’”
That’s why Kimberley still has goals out there she’s trying to reach. She wants to see her own firm thriving and having a positive impact on her community. And one day she’d like to be a judge.
Smart money says she’ll be called Judge Wallace one day.