March 19, 2012: Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson shared some words of wisdom and experience Wednesday with students from Columbus Technical College’s history and leadership classes. The mayor was asked by instructor Tamika McKenzie to address the students to help commemorate March being Women’s History Month.
Mayor Tomlinson talked about her experience as a student in a public high school in Metro Atlanta and then as a college student at the all-women Sweet Briar College in Virginia. It was there she fell in love with all things government, economic, and law-related. She attended law school at Emory University in Atlanta and eventually clerked at the Pope, McGlamry firm in Columbus. Little did they know at the time, she wasn’t going to leave anytime soon.
“One of the partners told me to just show up a few days a week,” she remembered with a laugh. “All of the sudden, the partners looked up and realized I was still on the payroll. Since I was the only woman, they were kind of stuck with me.”
Mayor Tomlinson told of her involvement representing families of the ill-fated crash of a ValuJet plane into the Florida Everglades. She recalled facing a room full of “$2,000 dollar suit wearing lawyers” that represented the airline. Because of her love and knowledge of the law, and ability to bring a different view to the legal arena, she was able to file her case and secure settlements for the families she represented a full two years before the other families’ cases had even been heard.
The students heard inspirational words not only about women and their ability to be successful but also why it’s important to be oneself and use greenness as an advantage. In other words, don’t prescribe to the “that’s how it’s always been done” way of thinking. “You have an ability to see situations in a new light. It’s your most valuable asset,” Mayor Tomlinson said. “It’s a fresh perspective and it will be valued.”
Faculty, staff, and students who were unable to attend the Mayor’s remarks on the 14th will have another chance. She will be the featured speaker at the schools’ upcoming commencement ceremony at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center on May 7, 2012.