October Alumni Connection
The October Alumni Connection
Gabrielle Anne Massey
For Gabrielle Anne Massey’s friends and family, her career choice has never been much of a surprise.
“My mother tells a story about finding me in my bedroom around age 5, with all my stuffed animals lined up: my jury. And I was standing in front of them, lecturing,” Gabrielle said. “I’ve wanted to be a lawyer as long as I can remember.”
Although it was her preschool toys who first gave her a practice run, it was when she joined Vanguard’s mock trial team that she got her first real vision of her future.
“Being a part of Vanguard’s mock trial team was my first experience in a courtroom, which set me off on the right foot,” she said, noting that all but one of her mock trial teammates eventually became attorneys.
Despite her early determination, Gabrielle’s path to her chosen profession was not always as clear to her as it was to those around her.
After graduating from Vanguard in 1997, Gabrielle attended Baylor University where she received a degree in forensic anthropology. She then began at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.
“My roommate was a police officer, and her job sounded like much more fun than sitting in an office writing contracts all day,” she said. “However, after only a year of SMU, I realized that my law school debt would be much more than a police officer’s salary could afford if I left after the first year, so I stuck it out. And I’m glad I did!”
Still unsure about her real place in the law world, Gabrielle received some advice after finishing her second summer of working for an aviation attorney. She was told that if she really wanted to be a trial lawyer, she should research the district attorney’s office.
The following week, she accompanied that attorney’s partner to Fort Worth and sat in on a criminal case.
“From the moment the prosecutor started speaking, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Gabrielle said.
The prosecutors she saw that day helped her to get an externship with the Narcotics Task Force Prosecution Unit of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office in Fort Worth.
Later, during an internship, Gabrielle applied for and received her third-year bar card which allowed her to try several drug cases. Her next assignment was as a paid intern with the Crimes Against Children’s Unit.
“The first sexual assault of a child case I tried changed my life,” she said. “As the teenage girl threw her arms around my neck and sobbed, ‘Thank you, thank you; people have to believe me now,’ I knew at that exact point that prosecuting sex crimes and crimes against children was my calling and my passion.”
Gabrielle now works for the McLennan County Criminal District Attorney’s Office in their Crimes Against Children division, as an assistant criminal district attorney.
“There is nothing more rewarding in life than standing up for children who have been hurt and violated, and being able to bring closure to a horrific life event for them,” she said.
Gabrielle believes that one of the reasons she is able to handle the fast pace and responsibility of her job is the foundation she received at Vanguard.
“Being a Vanguard student can be overwhelming, with the amount of reading, homework, and project,” she said. “But, I feel that I am able to roll with the pace and am able to balance a full caseload, docket and trials with ease as a result of my Vanguard education and having to juggle a million things at once!”
She also credits the faculty at Vanguard for preparing her for her future.
“Having teachers who always expect the best out of their students has made the transition to practicing in front of judges, who always expect the best from the prosecutors in their courts, effortless,” she said.
Gabrielle’s hope is that current Vanguard students take advantage of the variety of learning that is offered to them.
“Vanguard has many opportunities for extracurricular activities that help you build a broad background for your continued education and life beyond school,” she said. “Try to do as much as you can.”
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