Multimedia maven: Detroit Mercy Law student draws on background in communications


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Tenisha Wardford started writing short stories at a very young age, which turned into writing plays and scripts that family and friends would act out.

She went on to earn her undergrad degree in communications from Michigan State University with the goal of becoming a video journalist, researching, broadcasting, and directing entertainment news.

Three years later, she attended Specs Howard School of Media Arts, to hone in on her news writing and broadcasting skills—but instead discovered a love for production and editing.

“Those newfound passions provided me with the fuel to land opportunities to work at radio stations, produce radio shows, and also some voiceover, engineering, and commercial work,” she says. “From there, I decided to pursue a master’s in media arts and in film production to complete my entertainment skill set package.”

Wardford earned her master’s from Wayne State University, where she was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society; and also received a graduate certificate in Online Communication and New Media. She filmed, edited and produced multiple short films, wrote scripts and performed in short films, officiated as an on-air correspondent, and designed and constructed several New Media websites.

Then life went in a different direction. Lady Justice called Wardford’s name when she started working at Wayne County Probate Court during graduate school, eventually spending 8-1/2 years in these legal waters. Starting as a court clerical worker, she became a court clerk, and finally spent 4-1/2 years as court executive records manager.  

“I never expected to end up managing the very department I started in, but that’s how fate would have it,” she says. “And something else was awakened in me during those transitional years — my love for helping people. I took great pride in my position within the community, and it sincerely hurt me when I wasn’t legally able to help patrons with something as simple as reading or filling out forms.

“A lot of the cases left me wishing I was in a position to advocate further, so I decided to go to law school. The bonds I developed with judges, lawyers, and other staff members also contributed to that decision.”

Now in her 2L year at Detroit Mercy Law School, where she is vice president of the Parents In Law Association, a member of the Black Law Student Association, the Sports Law Society, and the Women’s Law Caucus, Wardford says she appreciates the inclusive and encouraging environment.

“The support, encouragement, and guidance I’ve received has truly exceeded my expectations,” she says. “I can honestly say this law school is a perfect fit for me and I’m grateful for my new family and network every day.”

She clerked this past summer for Judge Terrence Berg of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and also served as a summer associate at Dickinson Wright; and will intern with the Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services in winter 2022.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying this journey and learning as much as I can in diverse areas, and I’m really excited about my future,” she says. “Considering probate is what introduced me to law in the first place, it will always have a special place in my heart. I will be a probate attorney.

“I’m also interested in entertainment, of course, and trademarks and copyrights. I look forward to merging all of my careers together. My long-term career goal is to open a full-service law firm in the metro Detroit area.”

Wardford believes her media arts/communications skills will help her excel in her legal career.

“They kept my writing skills sharp, prepared, and coached me how to speak in public, and how to thrive under pressure,” she says. “What I love most about film and production is the ‘lights, camera, action’ atmosphere. Once the cameras are rolling, its ‘go time,’ which also rings true once a judge enters their courtroom and the deputy declares ‘all rise.’”

Wardford adds she has coped well with remote studies during the pandemic.

“It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I do appreciate the flexibility – especially with two little ones at home. I have a first grader and a pre-kindergartener, so there is never a dull — or quiet — moment in my house,” she says with a smile.

Her leisure time hobbies include blogging, vlogging, editing, and all sorts of home improvement projects.

“You may not guess by looking at me, but I’m actually very handy,” she says. “I’m also an active member at my church, International Gospel Center, in Ecorse. I have a passion for the youth for sure.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Wardford currently makes her home in Southfield.

“I love the roots of Detroit—past, present, and future,” she says. “I’m proud to be from here and I look forward to pouring back into the community that has poured so much into me and essentially shaped me to be the person I am today.

“I will be intentional in ensuring my children, mentees, youth, and others that come after me receive the exposure, resources, and connections they need to succeed.”

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