Jessica Hirsch didn't really remember writing the essay. So she was more than a little surprised when she was notified that she won a contest sponsored by Judge Judy, and the chance to fly out to Los Angeles, attend a taping of the show, and then have a private lunch with her honor. "They were asking people to write about what they've learned from Judge Judy during her 20 years on television," Hirsch, an education coordinator for Mayo's Biomedical Ethics Research Program, tells us. "When I got the call that I had won, I had to ask them to send me what I'd written, because I hadn't saved it."
Thinking back, however, Hirsch says hammering out 250 words on how Judge Judy had influenced her own life must have come easy. "I was 14 years old when I saw her for the first time," Hirsch says. "My grandparents had always been big into court TV, and I was over visiting them one afternoon and she came on. My grandma said, 'Oh, you're going to love this woman.'" And that turned out to be nothing but the truth.
Hirsch says watching Judge Judy with her grandparents became "a bonding experience." And she tells us Judge Judy not only taught her a lot about the law, but also about life. "One of the things I most admire about her is that before she became a television celebrity, she was a family court judge in New York City," Hirsch says. "She was one of the first females appointed to that role, and she would always take a very pragmatic and uncomplicated approach to family law. I admired her for that."
Judge Judy's approach, Hirsch tells us, has influenced the way she does her own job at Mayo Clinic. "Bioethics is an incredibly tenacious field, because you have to constantly defend your beliefs and think critically about complicated medical issues," she says. Watching Judge Judy "command a room" was an eye-opener, she says. "It showed me that it doesn't matter who you are — you can command a room if you have confidence in yourself and know what you're talking about."
Hirsch says she hopes there will be plenty for her and the good judge to talk about when she flies out to meet her in April. "I'm most nervous about the interview Judge Judy's going to do with me, because they're taping it and airing it on the show," she says. "I'm honestly just worried that I'm going to get out there and lose my voice." Outside of that, she says, "I'm just really hoping we can talk to each other as two individuals who are passionate about the law."
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