Wharton said the presence of mentors in her life was particularly transformative, from a professor in college who encouraged her pursuit of law, to a judge who saw her in moot court and helped her obtain a federal clerkship.
She said it was as if God was sending people to her at every critical juncture in her life.
The mainstay on Monica’s journey was her godmother, Edith Friday, who is now 80 years old. Friday was a teacher and wife of a police officer in Newark, New Jersey, near Montclair, where Monica grew up.
Wharton said she met Friday as a baby. Friday’s daughter, who worked at Monica’s day care, brought the then 18-month-old home to babysit Monica for the weekend.
Monica said Friday took her in as one of her own, even bringing Monica on family vacations and ultimately teaching her the importance of family values.
"She has been at every graduation, my wedding, the birth of my children,” Monica recalls. “It takes more sometimes. It takes a village."
She said her mother’s unconditional love allowed her to be nurtured by her godmother, who did not know Monica’s family before that determinative moment in day care.
"I'm grateful to my mom for sharing that space with her to allow me to get to where I need to be,” Wharton said.
She said it was God’s grace that allowed her to encounter the right people at the right time. Those people helped create Wharton's strong foundation, which resulted in her achieving her dreams not only in her career, but also at home with her adoring husband and three sons.
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