MC grad serves as Midland Municipal Court AdministratorOctober 03, 2023

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab.  Zayda, Jeff and Hannah Wakley

Twenty-seven years ago, Zayda Wakley immigrated from Central America to Western Canada with her parents and younger sister in order to escape civil war.  At the time, Wakley was 8 years old.  Today, she is the Court Administrator for the Municipal Court of the City of Midland, a position to which she was just recently promoted after completing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal at Midland College (MC) this past May.

“Believe it or not, video games had a big part in my getting to Midland,” Wakley said.  “I grew up in Alberta and had a typical childhood once my family arrived in Canada.  Both my parents worked all sorts of jobs to make a better life for my sister and me.  As a youth, I played video games, and through online video games, I met my husband Jeff who was living in Dallas and working in the Information Technology field.  We first had a long-distance relationship and when things started getting serious, I moved to Dallas.  I’ve been living in Texas ever since!”

Wakley explained that eight years ago, Jeff accepted an IT job with a local law firm in Midland, and she obtained a position as an Executive Assistant to the Municipal Court judges.  

“I really enjoy working at the Municipal Court,” she said. “The judges and all staff are like a second family to me.  In fact, the two full-time judges even came to my Midland College graduation ceremony.  I really couldn’t ask for a better work environment; they are so supportive of my education.

Working for the Municipal Court was what prompted me to take courses toward a paralegal degree.  I had taken some community college courses when I was in Dallas, but at the time I had no idea of what direction I should take for a degree.  Judicial administration runs a lot like a law firm, so I was able to apply the knowledge I learned in my paralegal courses to my career at the Municipal Court.”

While Wakley said that she applied the information she learned in classes to her career, Charity Rollfs, J.D., MC Paralegal and Legal Assistant program director, said that Wakley also applied her knowledge from working at the Municipal Court to her classes.  Rohlfs said that Wakley’s work experience gave a unique perspective to online class discussions.

“I am so proud of Zayda,” Rohlfs said.  “She always excelled in my classes and helped her classmates, too.”

Due to her job and family responsibilities, Wakley was only able to attend MC as a parttime student. Her daughter Hannah was born five years ago while she was taking classes, so she took a year off during her pregnancy and while Hannah was an infant.

“Hannah might just be eligible for her paralegal degree, also,” Wakley joked.  “She was in my lap a lot of the time while I was studying and taking online courses!

“The fact that Midland College allows students to take courses at their own pace and that all my paralegal courses were online are wonderful advantages for someone like me.  I needed the flexibility of being able to work fulltime, take care of my family and also earn a degree.  I also appreciated the encouraging atmosphere at MC.

“My experience with community colleges has been great.  I think that if there were community colleges in Canada, I probably would have started on my degree sooner.  I don’t think any other country has community colleges.  Those of us in the U.S. are very lucky to be able to take advantage of all the services that community colleges offer.”

This fall, Wakley has left the community college environment and is continuing her higher education at University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  She said that all of her courses at UTPB are also online.

“The position of Court Administrator requires a bachelor’s degree,” she explained.  “When I was promoted to this position, it was understood that I would continue my education.  I would not have gotten the job if I hadn’t had an associate degree, and in order to keep it, I will obtain a bachelor’s degree.”

Even with her busy schedule, Wakley makes time to relax.  She said that she and Jeff still play video games, and she enjoys reading.  She is currently working on a Goodreads Book Challenge for 2023.  Wakley loves being with her family, which in addition to Jeff and 5-year-old Hannah, includes two dogs—a German Shepherd and a Lab.  Every summer, the family travels to her hometown in Western Canada.

Photo:  Zayda, Jeff and Hannah Wakley

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