SIULAW alum, Melodi Green ‘08 talks with Peoria Public Radio about becoming the first Black woman to head the Juvenile Division of the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office.

March 05, 2021 , TIM SHELLEY | Peoria Public Radio

melodi-green.pngMelodi Green is a Peoria native who worked hard to make her dreams of becoming an attorney come true. She's now the first Black woman to head the Juvenile Division of the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office.

Green recently spoke to WCBU's Tim Shelley about her personal journey, how she approaches her job, and advice for those who might follow in her footsteps.

Tim Shelley: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Are you a Peoria native?

Melodi Green: Yes, sir, I am. I'm born and raised in Peoria, I went to Peoria Public Schools, my entire life, Peoria District 150. And this is my home, I don't know what else to say about that. My family is here, the vast majority of my family's here, and so Peoria is near and dear to my heart. It always has been and it will be. So those are some of the reasons that I want to work here, and live here, and help to better my community.

TS: Tell me a little bit about your career. At what point did you realize 'I want to be an attorney' and go to law school, and do all that?

MG: Honestly, I think I realized that I wanted to become an attorney when I was probably too young to know what that really entailed. I can remember sitting on my mom's lap, watching the law shows, if you will, Law & Order type of shows, and things like that.

And I said, You know, I wanted to become a lawyer. I had no idea what that really meant, how hard it would be to get here, and what it means to actually be here. Once, you know, now that I have here. You know, when I came when I was a kid, I just saw what I saw on the TV. And so that became my dream. And I really never allowed another option. It's to my mind.

It was difficult, though, because I didn't know any attorneys. I didn't know any lawyers. I surely didn't know what they did. [I was a] first generation college graduate, so I didn't have much of a higher education background or references to go to, to actually say, I want to become a lawyer. Help me. From the time I'm a little kid throughout my educational career, so that I can make it there easily. That was not my story.

But I made it anyway. And I think that's the story that, unfortunately, a lot of people have to follow. They find their way as they go. And if we all have more resources ahead of time, we would we would be better off.

TS: So let's talk about that a little bit. What could we do to make that path easier for somebody who might want to follow in your footsteps someday?Any mentorship opportunities, or what might be able to help?

MG: I definitely think that mentorship is, should be centered in in our approach, and that's something that I say to myself all the time. You know, we get caught up in our own lives and what we have going on. I have nine-year-old twin daughters, and you know, I work hard jobs and come home to them. It's easy to get lost in your own life.

But I know now what a mentor would have meant to me at that time. And I'm sure that there were plenty of people who would have been willing, but if you don't know who to reach out to, and you don't have those resources, you just don't know who to reach out to, and you don't have those resources.

So for me, I think mentorship is something that I want to center in who I am, and that I would preach, centering for other people who have sort of made it to a better position, if you will. I also think it's I think it's especially important for me, because of where I come from, Peoria Public Schools. My daughters go to Peoria Public Schools right now. And I see the need for mentorship within the school district.

And so for me, those kids are near and dear to my heart. And those kids are the ones who I want to be able to be there for if they need me. And so I mean, it's a constant, a constant struggle in a battle to do better and do the best that you can, and be there for whoever you can. And we're all just really hopefully doing the best that we can. But yeah, I think that mentorship is all that we can basically start with.

Read the complete story here.