Class of 2004 Valedictorian Enjoying Life As a Washington D.C. Attorney
Melissa Gohlke remembers how competition at Cedar Hill High School helped pave her road to success.
“My class (Class of 2004) was very academically competitive, beginning at the end of my time at Permenter Middle School,” Gohlke said. “Several of us had 4.0 grade point averages, but it came down to the weighted GPA.”
Gohlke was honored to earn the title of Valedictorian in 2004, and she utilized her graduation speech to thank her classmates.
“I remember that was important to me – I gave every group some type of shout-out,” Gohlke said. “I was super grateful to the teachers and mentors I had over the years. They helped me pick the right classes and how to achieve that.”
Gohlke was the senior class president and also participated in band, choir and debate during her time at CHHS.
“Thanks to the Advanced Placement Classes, I was able to enter college as a sophomore,” Gohlke said.
Today, Gohlke works as a corporate attorney for Cleary Gottlieb, an international law firm, at its Washington D.C. She lives in nearby Maryland with her wife and their infant daughter.
Gohlke had attended elementary school in Corpus Christi and left the Gulf Coast with her family, mid-year, to enroll at Belt Line Intermediate as a fifth grader.
“Becoming a CHISD scholar was really special,” Gohlke said. “We had so many high achievers, and it was really amazing to see kids performing in different activities at a really high level. We had a really cohesive class, and many of us still keep in touch.”
After graduating from CHHS, Gohlke attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth on a partial academic scholarship.
On other side of the Metroplex, she double majored in Political Science and Spanish before accepting a job in public relations for a Fort Worth-based energy company.
She then moved to the Philadelphia area before applying to the prestigious Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C.
At Georgetown, Gohlke had a wide variety of experiences, from serving as a public defender, to completing an internship with the U.S. Department of Justice.
It was a summer internship with her current employer that piqued her interest in corporate law.
“I found it really interesting,” Gohlke said. “I’ve always been drawn to the defense side of the bar.”
Gohlke said the type of law that she practices differs dramatically from the courtroom portrayals that are depicted in most television shows and movies.
“We are resolving really complex problems,” Gohlke said. “The challenge and the intellectual curiosity keeps it interesting for me. It is almost like a negotiation where you are looking for the best outcome for a lot of different stakeholders.”
Gohlke still regularly visits the Cedar Hill area, but the COVID-19 Pandemic has made it more difficult to travel.
‘I miss the people I grew up with, and social media isn’t the same as hanging out with people in real life,” Gohlke said.