FIRST IN HER FAMILY TO GRADUATE COLLEGE, LOCAL LAWYER NOW SEEKS STATE SENATE SEAT
When I think about who inspires me, it is always my grandmother I see. It is not her steely eyes or mischievous smile that most often comes to my mind; it is her hands. She worked her entire life with those hands. They are large and knotted and strong. I remember them wrapping bundles from her years working in a laundry, canning, and picking me up and tossing me on the bed when I was little. They are great hands.
My mother and I learned from her that there is honor in hard work. I also learned that you should speak your mind because you have as much right as anybody to an opinion. I am proud to say that I am slowly and gratefully turning into her and my mother. We have grit. My grandmother, who didn’t get to go to school past middle school, made sure my mom graduated high school, and my mom (and dad) made sure I set my sights on college, even though it was never a possibility for them.
It is an honor to be the first in your family to go to college, but even while living in all that opportunity, there is also fear. You can feel like you don’t belong and that you are the only one charting a new course in your family (you’re not). At the University of Tennessee, I set out to make the most of every opportunity, and I did. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and then went to the University of Tennessee for law school. I have practiced law for ten years and, currently, at Baker Donelson I represent diverse small and large business clients.
Each challenge teaches you about yourself—where you can improve and where your gifts are. And, of course, there are the invaluable lessons we learn from failure.
Running for office this year is a new challenge. It is also an honor. I love the opportunity because it lets me talk about people like my grandmother and my folks. It also lets me advocate for more women at the table in our state government. Only 15% of our state government is female, and we need women in the room as we chart a course to help Tennessee families build a better life.
Since my first day on earth, I have always had strong women (and men) cheering me along. And, I am going to pay back the favor by working as hard as I can for the great people in District 7 in Knoxville. You can follow Jamie Ballinger for Senate on Facebook or check us out at jamieballinger.com. Election Day is November 6th. s