Finding Purpose in ‘Plan B’

Grace Thornton Experience, Fall 2020 Leave a Comment

Julie Hatcher Ralph ’92

Julie Hatcher Ralph said one thing she’s learned over the years is this — sometimes Plan B is better than Plan A. It was a lesson that started the moment she set foot on the University of Mobile campus, a place she hadn’t planned to go. 

“I was born and raised in Mobile and all through high school had planned to go away to school,” said Ralph, a 1992 UM graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English. “But after I won a scholarship to UM, a series of events led me there, and it was the very best place for me.” 

While there, she was able to plug into student organizations, music groups and stage productions and grow as a leader. She also won the title of Miss Mobile College, something she said changed her life. 

And all along the way, the people around her were cheering her on. 

“The professors who impacted my life at UM left a lasting mark, and for that I’m forever grateful,” she said. 

After UM, Ralph’s “Plan B” carried her on to get her master’s degree, attend law school and become assistant district attorney with the 20th Judicial District Court, East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana. She lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana, with her husband, Andy, and their children: William, Catherine and Stuart. 

“While my responsibility is to uphold and enforce the rule of law, I pray daily that I do so with mercy, compassion and grace,” Ralph said. “I try to remind myself that behind every police report and criminal charge is a human being with a story, and nothing makes me happier than to see someone turn his or her life around despite how bad that story might be.” 

She says walking another unexpected path — a battle with breast cancer — has deepened that compassion even more. 

“It has made me more empathetic to other people and their struggles in a way I never was before,” she said. “After all, we’re all surviving something.” 

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