By Torrie Hardcastle
Ever since her days dressing up in a bathrobe as a child, Erica Hughes knew she wanted to be a judge. After years of hard work, she achieved her goal in the historic 2018 election that saw 17 African American women elected to judgeships in Harris County, all of whom were recently sworn into office in early 2019.
In addition to now presiding over the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 3 and serving as a judge advocate in the Texas Army National Guard, Judge Hughes also finds time to shape young legal minds as an adjunct professor at San Jacinto College.
“I’ve always liked to teach and have a passion for it,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to witness students achieve goals and to hear about their successes. That’s why I keep coming back to San Jacinto College every semester.”
A faculty member at San Jacinto College North Campus since 2010, Hughes teaches civil litigation, interviewing, investigating, and family law, and is beloved by students and well-respected by her fellow faculty members, says Jeanette Liberty, San Jac’s paralegal program director.
“Erica is such an outstanding role model, and our students look to her as someone aspirational,” she said. “By becoming so successful, Erica puts in students’ minds that they are capable, too.”
“I want to convey to students that they can be what they want to be,” Hughes said. “There may be roadblocks or obstacles, but don’t be defeated by those circumstances. Those goals may be delayed, but not denied. Don’t let anyone dim your light. I have taught in this position since 2010, and now I have this new role. Don’t be afraid of change and trying new things.”
While serving as a role model in the classroom and on the bench, Hughes is also providing opportunities outside of the classroom, hosting a San Jacinto student as her intern at the courthouse in spring 2019. “It’s all about lending a helping hand and paying it forward,” she said. “These students are capable of so many great things and I’m glad to be able to help them on their journey.”