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More than 25 years after changing career paths to study law, the College of William & Mary is honoring Judge Cressondra “Sandy” Conyers for her civic engagement and support of the college.
Conyers is the recipient of the 2015 Prentis Award, an annual honor handed out by William & Mary to individuals in the Williamsburg community who demonstrate strong civic involvement and support of the college.
Conyers serves as the presiding judge for Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a position she has held since 2012, and is the first black judge in the 9th Judicial District. She is also an adjunct instructor at the William & Mary School of Law.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to be selected for the Prentis Award,” Conyers said in a news release. “It’s such a notable group of men and women who have received it; I feel really honored to be part of that group.”
Conyers graduated received her law degree from William & Mary in 1992, but her path to the bench was unexpected.
Conyers graduated from Virginia State College, now university, and taught English in Williamsburg-James City County Schools for 11 years.
After attending a “Law Day” sponsored by the William & Mary Black Law Student Association, Conyers began to consider a career change.
“I loved working with children and families,” Conyers said in a news release. “I just felt like I had something else to give, and could do that in a different way. I remember talking to my dad, and saying, ‘You know, I was thinking about going to law school, but I’m too old. And I don’t have any money.’ He said, ‘Well, with that kind of thinking, you’ll never do anything.’”
Conyers, then 33 and a single mother, began her studies at the law school, ultimately graduating and serving as a prosecutor for 20 years.
She was appointed to the 9th circuit bench in 2012 by the Virginia General Assembly.
“Judge Conyers is a wonderful example of what happens when great natural ability is joined with hard work and compassion,” W&M President Taylor Reveley said. “Sandy has devoted her life to strengthening the Commonwealth’s families and helping their children. She has also attended to her alma mater, teaching and inspiring our law students. Judge Conyers is a marvelous recipient of the Prentis Award.”
Previous recipients of the Prentis Award include City Manager Jack Tuttle, the 2014 winner, Sanford Wanner, the 2009 honoree, and Lois Hornsby, who received the award in 2000.