Teenage single mother Krista Fulton could have ended up as a statistic.
Instead, she is a lawyer and adjunct professor at Tidewater Community College.
“I always knew whatever profession I chose, I wanted to do something that would actually help people,” Fulton said from her office in the Berkeley section of Norfolk. “I wanted to do something to make the world a better place.”
By day, that means working for the Office of the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney. For most of the last 10 years, she has prosecuted those who committed sex offenses against children and juveniles charged with violent crimes.
Currently, her focus is on community outreach and collaborative efforts – proactive strategies that prevent crime. Those efforts include her assisting to open satellite offices for the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney at the Berkeley Neighborhood Service Center and Military Circle Mall. Victims can walk into either of these offices to receive help dealing with their emotional and physical needs or managing practical problems created by victimization.
By night, Fulton teaches courses for TCC’s paralegal studies program. Students can earn their Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies or certificates in legal assisting, litigation or general practice.
Fulton teaches courses in legal writing, elder law, electronic practice and discovery and civil trial practice. She regularly brings real-world examples into the classroom, where discussion is a meaty part of the classroom experience.
“Reading and answering questions didn’t work for me, so I don’t expect it to work for anyone else,” she said.
Fulton will often recommend law school to students with an interest in furthering their education beyond the associate or bachelor’s level. She’s the no-excuses type given her own background. Fulton attended Kellam High in Virginia Beach but never graduated after becoming pregnant at 15.
Instead, she earned her GED and fulfilled all her college prerequisites by attending TCC. Fulton transferred to Old Dominion University, graduating with a bachelor’s in philosophy. She went on to Regent University’s Law School, finishing in 2005.
“You can be a single parent and go to college and go to law school if that’s what you want,” Fulton said. “You can do anything you set your mind to. I graduated with people in their 50s.”
Her hobbies are gardening and HGTV, all she can fit in after long days, which often involve talking with community groups about community safety and bullying. She’s regularly uplifted by a career that from the outside might be considered depressing when, in fact, it’s incredibly rewarding.
“It’s all in the perspective you take,” Fulton said. “Many victims come through the system and feel re-victimized. I feel like it’s my place not just to help them get justice, but to be a counselor because we are counselors at law. I want them to see this as a stepping stone to a better place.”
Fulton remains enthusiastic about the connections she’s made with TCC students over the years.
“Teaching at TCC is awesome,” she said. “Whenever I leave the classroom, no matter how tired I feel when going there, I always feel it’s worth it. It’s nice to see fresh, youthful faces eager to take on new challenges.”