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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Dream of a lifetime comes true for Ohioan

Pearson is first African-American woman to hold a federal judgeship in Ohio

Benita Pearson was only 8 when she decided her dream job was to become a judge — even though she didn't know exactly what that meant. One of six children being raised by a single mom in Cleveland, the odds of earning a judgeship would have seemed long, but Pearson always thought she would reach her goal.

Not only did she make it to the title of U.S. magistrate judge, Pearson this year was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a lifetime judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She is the first African-American woman to hold a federal judgeship in Ohio.

Benita Pearson, shown with Gregory
Benita Pearson, shown with Gregory A. White, a U.S. magistrate judge in Ohio, set her career goal when she was 8.

"My mother convinced us that we could do whatever we wanted, but that we had to have a goal," said Pearson, a member of Advent Lutheran Church, Solon, Ohio. "It was important to her that we had ambition."

After learning at age 13 that judges had to be attorneys, she set her sights on law school — though it would take awhile to get there. "I studied accounting as an undergrad and became an accountant, working in that capacity for seven years, always with the goal of getting into law school," she said.


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