UH law student named state's 2014 Mother of YearUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Julie Sparks, a mother of three, Realtor, and third-year student at the William S. Richardson School of Law located on the UH Mānoa campus, has been named 2014 Hawai‘i Mother of the Year.
Sparks will be honored at a banquet on Saturday, March 29, at the Hale Koa Hotel Banyan Tree Showroom. In April, she will join honorees from other states for the national American Mother of the Year competition in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A divorcee and single mom who remarried five years ago, Sparks breaks many stereotypical Mommy molds. Along with a full-time load of law school courses, she’s a full-time Realtor, but she also spends one day a week on a Law School externship with Sen. Sam Slom’s Minority Research Office at the state Legislature.
In addition, she worked with Law Professor and Carlsmith Faculty Scholar Randy Roth and Associate Faculty Specialist Kenneth Lawson, the associate director of the Hawai‘i Innocence Project, developing a supplement to the legal textbook on Professional Responsibility. She also helped Lawson develop a syllabus for a new law class on how to set up your own law firm.
Julie and her family also sponsor five children through Compassion International. Her teenage daughter met two of them last summer during a mission trip with their church to the Philippines. Additionally, Sparks has done pro bono work at the Family Court for a program that deals with child welfare.
But still at the forefront for Sparks are her 19-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. Her 22-year-old stepdaughter is married and living on the mainland. Sparks’ commitment has carried her through the tough times of teenage rebellion, the hours of pure exhaustion, and those moments of disappointment when both older children decided college wasn’t for them now.
“I finally learned to let go of who I want them to be and let them be who they are,” says Sparks. “It’s a hard lesson to learn as a mother.”
The Hawai‘i Mother of the Year competition is sponsored by American Mothers Inc., Hawai‘i Association. Sparks was nominated for the honor by a friend and filled out the application because of her friend’s encouragement. The local chapter personally interviewed nominees. One of the things Sparks told her interviewer was simple:
“I think my generation was sold a bill of goods, that you’re not very valuable if you’re just raising kids,” she said. “But the most important job you can do is to make sure you’re raising good people, because it affects everyone for the future.”