Kristi Nelson, NBC 5 News
Collin County's first African-American judge discovered at an early age that she wanted to work in the legal field.
Angela Tucker's life started out small. The Sherman, Texas native was born premature.
"My mom went into labor two months early, so I was [born] two pounds, 13 ounces," Tucker said. "At the time of my birth, they [doctors] told my parents I definitely would not survive."
Tucker survived those early days but suffered another setback a few years later.
"My parents divorced," Tucker said. "They separated when I was 3 [years old], divorced when I was 6. And I saw that knowledge of the law was power."
"Third grade is when I decided I was going to be an attorney."
Tucker fulfilled that dream. She earned a full scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Austin. Then she attended law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Post graduation, she went to work as an attorney, first in the Collin County District Attorney's Office and later as a private lawyer.
Tucker never thought about becoming a judge until a few years ago, after she watched a television documentary about African-Americans.
"I thought I can make the difference, I can be that change that I'm seeing other people do on television," Tucker said. "I can sit back and complain about how things are or I can say I will step up and serve. So that's the reason why I decided to run."
In 2012, she became Judge Angela Tucker, the first African-American judge in Collin County's 170-year history. She ran as a Conservative Republican. She replaced Judge Robert Dry, who retired.
"I'm firm but I'm fair," Judge Tucker said. "I want everyone that leaves, they may not have gotten what they wanted but I want everyone to feel like they had an opportunity to be heard. And that the judge was fair."
Collin County's 199th District Court hears many family law cases, which Tucker can relate to.
"I was a child of divorce," Judge Tucker said. "So I remember what that felt like. So when I see parents that are putting their children in the middle and it's a tug of war, I know exactly where that child is."
Some people are still getting used to seeing a different face on the bench.
"It's surprising to some people when they walk in, they do a double take when they see me on the bench," Judge Tucker said. "Because typically, they're use to [seeing] an old white male. I'm a young black female. So sometimes I get the double take.. is she really the judge?"
"There was an individual coming to get a warrant signed, and he says the judge isn't here... I'm looking for the judge... I need her to sign this. And I was standing right there."
Judge Tucker is a wife and mother of two who said she owes part of her success to her grandparents.
"My grandmother was my rock, she was my moral compass," Judge Tucker said. "My grandparents took me to church every Sunday, taught me right from wrong."
"So when everything was chaotic with my parents, the divorce, that sort of thing, they were my rock and my stability and my comfort."
She also credited her fifth grade teacher, who attended her swearing in.
"And she told me, to whom much is given, much is required, you don't get special treatment here," Tucker said. "You have the ability and so she pushed me."