Three Women Who Are a Reminder That You Can Persevere

Three Women Who Are a Reminder That You Can PersevereThis week we welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to discuss some well-known female role models and what lessons we can learn from them.

Woman; the epitome of strength, resilience, courage and empathy in human form. The personification of power and perseverance and if we’re keeping it all the way real, the backbone behind movements that have truly shaped this world. I mean I could sing our praises all day. Either through the words of Beyonce, who reminds us that we’re “Flawless” and that we “run the world,” or through the words of Kelly Clarkson, who reminds us that, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” We have so many positive characteristics that lay embedded at our core, however, this repository of powerful characteristics, is sometimes embedded far too deep, allowing life’s fears to outshine our power and causing us to quickly forget who we truly are.

Have you experienced this? Did you start your law school journey chanting Katy Perry’s “Roar” at the top of your lungs but then found yourself regressing in uncertainty after receiving your first semester grades? Did you successfully make it through all three years of law school, then come face to face with a tragedy or major life change just as you began preparation for the bar exam? As you travail your journey as a young law associate, do you find yourself second guessing ideas or arguments that you stood in confidently before walking into a male-dominated boardroom? Us too. Women face no shorthand of issues each and every day and when we come face to face with these problems, it’s easy to forget who we are. To forget everything that has brought us to where we are now.

In times of doubt, I find that looking to female role models who have overcome adversity serves as a reset button to unleashing the power within me. My hope is that this may do the same for you. I would like to focus on three women in the legal field who have overcome adversity time and time again: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Haben Girma and Sonia Sotomayor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg or the “Notorious RBG” as she is endearingly known, serves as an associate justice on the US Supreme Court and is no stranger to adversity imbued with discrimination and tragic circumstances. Born into a middle class family, she learned the importance of education early on, from her mother who tragically passed away from cancer the day before her high school graduation. After enrolling at Harvard Law, as one of nine females in a class of hundreds, she faced discrimination for taking a man’s spot, but nevertheless she persevered. Even at a time when she had to take care of her husband who was battling testicular cancer and since he was also a student at Harvard, she took responsibility for his education by taking his notes and briefing him on the courses that he missed. Not to mention, she did this all while raising a child and maintaining the top position in her class. She then made her way through a career in which she was robbed of many opportunities by virtue of being female and then went on to advocate on behalf of people dealing with discrimination.

Reading Ginsburg’s story may tempt us to dismiss her experience as an outlier. It’s not hard to categorize her as an extraordinary being, which she most certainly is, but, in doing so, we should recognize that we too have the power to persevere through difficulties and to ultimately achieve success.

Haben Girma

Haben Girma is the first deafblind woman to graduate from Harvard Law School and is now serving as a disability rights attorney. As a child of Eritrean refugees, she learned the power of persistence early on from her parents, who taught her about advocacy and fighting for freedom in light of their experience escaping the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Girma took this fight with her pushing back against the lack of accommodations she faced for her disability in different spaces. Notably advocating for the dining menu at her college cafeteria to be available in braille or online format pursuant to the ADA. This provided her and future blind students equal choice in food options or as she points out gave her the choice of chocolate cake. Channeling this fight, she went to law school with a goal of practicing civil rights law and was later honored with the Helen Keller Achievement Award and also by President Obama as a White House Champion of Change.

I hope Girma’s story serves as an inspiration to all women. It’s easy to lose our sense of power when the world is closed off to providing equal access to empower our opportunities. I want you to remember that regardless of your circumstances, you are enough. Let Girma’s story serve as a reminder that will ignite your power in those moments of fear.

Sonia Sotomayor

Finally, I would like to highlight another associate Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor who is the first Latina justice on the Supreme Court has faced discrimination as well as serious health issues that have impacted her path to success. Diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of seven, she has literally lived everyday as though it were her last and used this to drive her hard work and dedication which ultimately landed her at Princeton for her undergraduate studies and Yale for law school. Sotomayor however, faced discrimination throughout her schooling as well as later on throughout her career. Nevertheless, she has consistently risen above this and used her power within to remain on top.

I hope Sotomayor’s story inspires you to use whatever you may view as an obstacle as the drive that gets you over that hump. Just because someone tells you no, doesn’t mean you can’t prove them wrong and just because someone uses your immutable characteristics as a barrier, doesn’t mean you can’t break out against this.


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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