At the same time that Teresa Covell-Toth was studying for her law school final exams at Kansas University in 1987, she also worked nights at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and was two weeks away from having a baby.
Covell-Toth obviously thrives on challenge, and as an assistant to Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory, she is challenged daily in her work with juvenile offenders. Today marks the beginning of her fourth week on the job.
"I find the whole job challenging, but in a good way," Covell-Toth said during a recent interview in her office at the Law Enforcement Center. She added that she's most concerned with helping juveniles learn from their mistakes.
FLORY SAID he was pleased to have Covell-Toth on his staff. "She's doing quite well," he said. "Although Teresa is more limited in experience than the other assistant DAs, she's catching on and getting quite involved in a case load."
In addition to her interest in juvenile law, Covell-Toth's devotion to Lawrence helped her land the job, Flory said.
"She's committed to the area. I think that's good when a person takes an interest in the community and gets involved," he said.
Before joining the Douglas County office, Covell-Toth commuted to work for four months at the Wyandotte County District Attorney's office, where she dealt with adult offenders. The transition to prosecuting young people has been a learning experience, she said.
"It's difficult sometimes, but you have to look at it in the light that you're trying to help these kids," she said.
COVELL-TOTH, 28, grew up in Pittsburg, and received a nursing degree from Pittsburg State University. She then went on to study law at KU and graduated in July 1989.
"I'd always been intrigued by the law," she said. "Nursing is a wonderful profession and I admire the people who stay in it, but it's very physically challenging. I found that law is very mentally challenging."
However, she has considered merging her knowledge of the two professions in the distant future.
"I think many years down the road, I might get into medical litigation, handling malpractice suits," she said. "But I plan to stay here for a long time. I'm real happy where I am."
SHE MET AND married her husband, Tim Toth, while attending law school. "Grabbing a cup of coffee together between classes, that's real romantic," she said with a laugh. "I think if a marriage can make it through law school, it can make it through anything."
Covell-Toth said her husband will graduate in May and hopes to work in Kansas City or Topeka.
"He doesn't mind the commute," she said. "We've decided to make Lawrence our home. It's a good place to raise a child."
Covell-Toth's 9-month-old son, Andrew, was born soon after her graduation and at about the time that the bar exam was offered. For that reason she put off taking the bar until this winter.
When she's not in the courtroom or taking care of paperwork, Covell-Toth enjoys spending time with her family and devotes much of her free time to Andrew.
"He's my hobby," she said. "My husband cares for him a lot, too. He's a good dad.