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
“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
“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
“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
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