UNC Greensboro alumnus Barron L. Thompson ’01 took his oath of office earlier this month as a district court judge in Randolph County. It’s the fulfillment of a dream that started in sixth grade, and one that he credits to his political science professors at UNCG, and his family.
Thompson, whose father was a court reporter in the U.S. Navy, had an interest in the law at a young age. He also had an interest in education, majoring in political science with a minor in secondary education, and winning four scholarships to attend UNCG. In 1997, he was awarded the NC Teaching Fellows Program Scholarship, UNCG Alumni Scholarship, Kathryn Smith Reynolds Scholarship, and Governor James G. Martin Scholarship.
The first in his family to attend college, Thompson is humble about his success.
“I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” says Thompson. “My grandparents were farmers with an eighth-grade education. They raised goats. I have a goat bell on my desk to remind me how far I have come. Professor Leigh Sink is a great teacher; she is one of the reasons I became a lawyer, and now a judge. Jeff Colbert continues to be a tremendous supporter; he and his wife attended my swearing-in ceremony. I hope he never stops teaching!”
Following graduation from UNCG, Thompson taught social studies at Eastern Guilford High School. After reading the biography of John Adams who was a teacher and then went to law school, and after conversations with mentors, he decided to take the legal leap. A member of the inaugural class at Elon Law School, he went into private practice in Asheboro focusing on civil litigation. Fast forward a few years and Thompson, one of four nominees for district court judge, declared his candidacy in January 2019, won the March primary, and then won November general election for the judicial post he now holds.
His advice to students: “What makes you different makes you stronger. Don’t discount your experiences.” Thompson directed a theater performance, and that caught the attention of a potential employer. Something unusual will help you stand out from the pack, he says, and he encourages students to do something different, including participating in service opportunities.
Thompson continues to share his Spartan pride. “I wear my judicial badge on a UNCG lanyard.” He also extended an invitation to students to visit his courtroom. “The best way to learn is to observe the legal process first-hand.”
Photography courtesy of Barron L. Thompson