Since graduating from Webster University in 1972, Webster alumna Ann Walsh Bradley has become one of seven justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, making her the longest-tenured justice on that court since her 1995 election.
“I wanted to go to an innovative college. Something that was new and exciting, and Webster fit the bill. It was in a time of such creativity and energy almost beyond explanation,” Bradley said.
While at Webster, one challenge that Bradley faced was the cost. The cost of tuition at the time was more than her parents’ income.
“I needed to work, and sometimes I held three part-time jobs. I always worked in the Public Information Office 20 hours a week,” Bradley said.
Another job that Bradley discussed was her role as a night clerk at Webster, which is similar in responsibility to the student employees that sit at the front desk at dorm entrances. Outside of working, Bradley still expressed the joys she experienced in college.
“My overall favorite memory is reflecting on the number of strong women on the faculty. When I was there, [Webster] had transitioned from a Catholic college to secular institution but still had a number of Sisters of Loretto that were faculty members,” Bradley said.
While the study abroad program wasn’t as large as it is now when Bradley was at Webster, the university still offered ways for students to study outside of Webster Groves. Bradley remembers having the opportunity to study in a unique way.
“We were encouraged to do independent studies and sabbatical. That was not the norm in colleges at the time, but Webster had it,” Bradley said. “Webster opened my eyes to possibilities. During my junior year, I spent time in Israel studying, and that was a part of what Webster was. It encouraged that kind of a thing.”
In the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Bradley has had many co-judges, and in 2020, Justice Jill J. Karofsky became the newest addition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Karofsky spoke about what she has learned from Bradley.
“[Bradley knows] how the court works, how it has worked and how it could work in the future. She also has a very keen legal mind. The way she is able to analyze the cases and the issues that come before us,” Karofsky said.
However, it was finding the joy of the job that Karofsky said was the most important thing she has learned from Bradley.
“She wakes up every day and tries to watch the sunrise, and she’ll send pictures of it. She writes in a gratitude journal. Even during some of the days that have been more challenging than others, she works very hard to get positive and remain positive,” Karofsky said.
On top of serving as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Bradley is also chair of the Board of Managerial Trustees of the International Association of Women Judges and is a part of iCivics, a non-profit organization created with former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that teaches high schoolers about civics.