~Vershenia Ballance-Moody ~ District Court Judge, District 6
Vershenia Ballance-Moody was born, raised and educated in Bertie County. Her post-collegiate path lead her from North Carolina to New York, but thankfully God navigated her back to Eastern North Carolina. As you read this interview, it will be evident that Vershenia’s intellect, drive and determination could have landed her anywhere in the world. However, her tremendous love for family, coupled with the opportunity to serve the people of Bertie and surrounding counties, has her entrenched in Downeast culture, making us so very proud! This wonderful woman is beautiful, bright, bold-spirited, breaking barriers, and blazing trails. She is my niece, The Honorable Vershenia Ballance-Moody—the first woman (black or other) to serve as a judge in Bertie County! Undoubtedly, ‘her-story’ is Bertie Black History!
TCV1: What community/street did you grow up in as a Bertie County youngster?
VBM1: I grew up on Highway 305—1/2 mile from Aulander Elementary School. Most of my time, however, was spent in “Da Hole” at either one of my grandmother’s houses. “Da Hole” is a community section of Aulander, near Sycamore Street, and the railroad tracks.
TCV2: What’s your very first thought/memory of life in Bertie?
VBM2: No doubt, Christmas in “Da Hole” with grandparents and family—still a tradition today. Although both grandma’s have passed, we plan to uphold the rich tradition. We are all about family!
TCV3: What age did you develop a love for Law?
VBM3: Well, I didn’t really think about pursuing Law until undergraduate school. It wasn’t a love for the profession that sparked my interest, it was a tragic event. My uncle was killed by his girlfriend in a domestic violence incident. I was a sophomore in college, and rushed home to be with my family. I was in such a rush that I had a car accident in a Carolina blue Cadillac Seville, leaving the dormitory. The girlfriend was charged; however, the charges were dropped due to a self-defense claim. I did not like the outcome, nor did I understand the process, so my interest in the legal system began at the point. The love for Law came much later.
TCV4: Who were the most influential people who formed who you are—As a person? As a judge?
VBM4: As a person: My parents, but specifically my father, William “Bill” Ballance. He raised me to be independent, to have good work ethic, and he showered me with all of the “daddy’s girl” perks. As a judge: There really isn’t one particular person who helped to shape me, but a hodgepodge of several people. I observed how they ran court, their characteristics, etc. A few come to mind— Judge Cy Grant, Judge Rob Lewis, Judge Tom Newbern, and Judge Alfred W. Kwasikpui, all of whom I appeared before on a daily basis. They shaped the “how-to” that became my style of jurisprudence.
TCV5: What is your most memorable high school experience? How did it shape you?
VBM5: Being a member of the band, having a leadership role—The leadership role helped to cultivate the leader that was innately a part of my make-up.
TCV6: What college(s) did you attend? Why those choices?
VBM6: I attended UNC at Chapel Hill for undergrad. A tradition had been established in my family to attend NC A&T State University. There was a push to pursue Engineering, as I also had a high aptitude for math. I did receive a scholarship to attend, however, I chose UNC, opting not to attend a technical university. As I was unsure what I really wanted to do, I chose the school with the broader array of Liberal Arts course disciplines. North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law was my choice for Law School. Although I wanted to remain at UNC for Law School, and was an honor graduate there, I did not receive a scholarship. On the contrary, NCCU offered a full ride. I graduated from NCCU Law with honors, as well. I’m proud of my choice.
TCV7: What is one thing that college (undergrad) taught you about life?
VBM7: It taught me how to be in a setting where I feel comfortable, despite being a minority. The demographic make-up was a drastic change from high school in eastern NC. It opened my eyes to the world that I had not experienced prior.
TCV8: What is one thing that the Law School taught you about life?
VBM8: Law School at NCCU was unique in that it attempted to produce lawyers, who were not only successful, but who would go out to work with underprivileged communities and provide uplift, as well.
TCV9: What is your most proud professional accomplishment?
VBM9: Becoming a judge—allowing me the privilege to help others—sometimes that help may be in the form of a structured sentence; to protect; to show mercy…
TCV10: What is one word that sums up your professional journey, thus far?
VBM10: Authentic—I try to always be authentically “me”—I address people where they are, being truthful even when it hurts.
TCV11: What are three of your greatest personal accomplishments?
VBM11: My two children; Despite being a public figure, being able to live my truth openly; Learning how to be loved by being more in tune with who I am.
TCV12: What advice would you give young boys/girls that would motivate and inspire them to accomplish their goals?
VBM12: Be authentically you! Work hard. Don’t take shortcuts. Realize that you are enough.
TCV13: Your favorite quote?
VBM13: One of my favorites—“Everybody wants to ride with you in the limo. What you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. ~Oprah Winfrey
TCV14: Today, I am grateful for________. (One word)
VBM14: Today, I am grateful for LOVE.