On Friday, history was made in the Vermont Supreme Court as Judge Nancy Waples was sworn in by Governor Phil Scott, and in doing so, became the first woman of color on the state’s highest court. Those who took to the podium also made sure to highlight her wealth of experience, her unique perspective, and dedication to the rule of law. All that being said, the historic nature of Judge Waples’ rise to the Vermont Supreme Court gave this swearing-in an air of celebration.

“Those entrusted to protect our laws are fair, impartial, hardworking, and understanding of the challenges facing their everyday lives,” said Governor Scott. “I believe Judge Waples possesses those qualities and more and is the right person at the right time for the Supreme Court.”

When Governor Scott first appointed Judge Waples to the Vermont Supreme Court, she reflected on the perseverance of her parents who emigrated from China to the U.S., traveling halfway around the world with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. On Friday, Waples recalled some advice her late mother gave her upon her rise to the Vermont Superior Court in 2015.

“Remember Nancy, she said, you work for the people,” said Waples. “Work hard, and don’t let them down. I will learn and grow every day I sit on the bench, and that process will continue for as long as I have the privilege to wear that black robe.”

It’s a quality Waples’ children seem to have picked up on. Her two sons, currently law students living in New York City, made the trip north, and of course, they had jokes.

“Anyone who appeared before her knew that they had their day in court,” said Lane Waples. “As her son, I do not know what that feels like. Mom, I am so proud of you and I’m continuously impressed by what you’ve accomplished as a woman of color, a lawyer, a judge, and most importantly my mom. I hope one day I can achieve a fraction of what you have. Thank you.”

Waples’ youngest son Graham took to the podium next, emphasizing her character and the positive impact she’s had on colleagues, friends, and family. “You’re the most amazing person I’ve met. Your fortitude, bravery, intelligence, determination, vision, and above all else, your kindness have shown that anyone in this country can achieve incredible success, respect, and prestige in whatever they set their mind out to become through hard work and perseverance. I love you so much and I’m so incredibly proud of you. Congratulations Justice Nancy Waples.