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Justice Sharon Kennedy urges students to reach higher

Where a young lady saw ceilings, others saw opportunities.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy visited Tiffin and Seneca East High School Wednesday.

During a breakfast with Tiffin University students and staff, Kennedy said she has new goals and said she won’t be in the same place in five years and 10 years.

She told students if they see something they might want to experience, to call someone doing it. She said she has had high school students go to see her, and anybody will take those phone calls.

“Nothing is beyond your reach,” she said.

Kennedy, who initially was a police officer in Hamilton Police Department, recalled taking a general law course as an elective and being told that law enforcement was not a ceiling.

She was told it was a floor for her and that she could be a lawyer and judge someday.

Kennedy said she saw socio-economic barriers and thought one had to come from great wealth to be a lawyer.

“Seed planted,” she said.

Policing was the first time Kennedy had met a lawyer and a judge, and she said there were a lot of people just like her.

A lot of lawyers — whose parents grew up poor in the Great Depression — were the first to go to college, she said.

Kennedy was offered a position as a law clerk, and she said she understood the criminal aspect while working for a judge.

“I’m a small-town lawyer,” she said.

She recalled saying, “Judge, I want to be you.”

Kennedy saw another ceiling when told she could make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

“I’m not one of those,” she said.

The judge helped Kennedy get involved in a local young Republican club, which led her to volunteer on campaigns. She said that in May 2010, she realized something no one else did: All justices would be gone by 2022.

“I wanted to be part of that new generation of justice,” she said.

Kennedy joined Ohio Supreme Court in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014, according to the court’s website.

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