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AUM alumna inspires new graduates to ‘jump’ to fulfill their purpose

Fifteenth Circuit District Judge Tiffany B. McCord speaks at AUM’s Fall 2023 Commencement.

AUM alumna and Fifteenth Circuit District Judge Tiffany B. McCord encouraged new AUM graduates to walk in their purpose as they embark on their new careers and journeys in life during Saturday’s Fall Commencement ceremony.

McCord, who served as AUM’s Fall 2023 Commencement speaker, shared how AUM, its faculty and its supportive environment inspired her to walk in her purpose and fulfill her dreams to pursue law school and a career in law.

District Judge Tiffany McCord and AUM Chancellor Carl Stockton

“When I sat up there almost 30 years ago (looking back into the stands), I didn’t see myself here,” McCord said. “I didn’t think anyone would call me to be a graduation speaker. If you saw me as a freshman here, you probably wouldn’t recognize the person standing here before you. When I arrived on campus, I was quiet, and if you know me I’m not really quiet, and I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence and I didn’t believe in the power of me.”

As a shy, quiet student, McCord said she was able to grow into a confident, active and involved student with the help of her professors and even a housing staff member who supported her throughout her college days to change her trajectory in life.

“I came to AUM as a first-generation college student, but while here I ran my first political campaign, while here I won my first race, while here I became the first African American SGA vice president on campus, and while here I met my husband (to applause from the crowd),” she said. “While I was here, I first learned that my voice mattered and I could be the change I wanted to see.”

AUM is also where McCord says she learned to “jump.”

“I guess you say what does jump mean,” she asked graduates. “It’s joy that is unwavering that motivates purpose. I learned that if I had joy that was unwavering, it would motivate me to fulfill my purpose.”

McCord is living her purpose today.

McCord is one of three district judges serving the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from AUM and served as the first African American SGA vice president at AUM before completing a juris doctorate at Faulkner University. During her career, she went on to become the first black female to hold the position of Montgomery County Circuit Clerk in 2012. McCord joined the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in 2018.

a group of people in uniform standing in front of a crowdAfter earning her law degree, McCord became one of the youngest attorneys to be selected as a Criminal Justice Act panel attorney for the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Alabama. As an attorney, she specialized in criminal, civil and family law.

For McCord, finding her purpose meant embracing joy in good times and bad times.

“It’s easy to have joy when the lights are on and there are gifts under the tree,” she said. “But having joy when things are bad is different. Joy is not situational. It’s recognizing that with every beat of your heart there is opportunity to walk in your purpose. A lot of people can’t have joy because they don’t know their purpose.”

In closing, McCord asked graduates to repeat a motivational sentence that inspired her to grow in her purpose and take a selfie to see where they are now and their potential to be who they want to be.

“I know I can be what I want to be because I believe in the power of me,” she told graduates as she turned her phone camera to take her selfie. “Now take that picture.”

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