When Mona Sabie Womack (86) first came to MSU, she dreamed of becoming a doctor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, was a member of the MSU tennis team for four years and was a member of Delta Gamma Sorority. She was also crowned MSU homecoming queen in 1984. After graduating, Womack applied to dental school at the University of Louisville (U of L). However, her admissions interview was a turning point that gave her a new direction.
“During the admissions process, you have an interview with faculty members, and one of them said to me, ‘you know, you talk a lot, and we generally don’t talk a lot in the dental profession. You should consider going to law school.’ So, I applied and was accepted to law school,” Sabie Womack said.
After graduating from the Brandeis School of Law at U of L, she worked as a judicial law clerk for Circuit Judge Stephen Hayden in Henderson County before accepting a position with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), where she has worked for the last 25 years. Though becoming a lawyer wasn’t her original plan, she said she loves what she does.
“I knew working here would be family law-based, and I was interested in that,” she said. “It’s a great place to work.”
She currently serves as deputy general counsel for the CHFS Office of Legal Services, where she supervises 27 attorneys and five support staff members. Her focus is on the Department of Community Based Services (DCBS), and aside from answering legal questions from DCBS offices and social workers across the Commonwealth, she also serves as counsel for CHFS and DCBS social workers in court when they are sued, which is typically the result of children being removed from a parent’s home by DCBS.
One of Sabie Womack’s duties is overseeing adoption cases for children who are placed in foster care after being removed from their parents’ custody, and she said those cases are the ones she finds most rewarding.
“The 27 lawyers I supervise do an area of law called termination of parental rights. That’s how we get kids who can’t go home because their parents haven’t fixed their issues, adopted. We are one piece in the process that puts kids in loving adoptive homes,” she said. “It’s great to know a child is going to have a good life and a good home.”
Thinking back on her time at MSU, Sabie Womack said one of the most important things she learned was how to interact with people she didn’t necessarily have a lot in common with.
“I think the thing I learned that I still carry with me today is how to build a relationship with people who are different from me,” she said. “At MSU, the classes are small, so you can’t hide like at a bigger school. You have to talk to your professors and classmates, and that has helped me learn to build relationships with people from different backgrounds and personalities. Most of my friends today are friends I have from MSU.”
Womack is the president-elect of the MSU Alumni Association.
To become a member of MSU’s Alumni Association, visit alumni.moreheadstate.edu.