Taking Notes from Women in Power

As I get closer to graduation, I know that I’m about to head into the hectic world of “adulthood.” Already, my generation has experienced quite a bit in terms of what the world has in store and as most people know Cal Lutheran is unfortunately one of the schools that was greatly affected by the Borderline shooting that happened last November. The world has changed so much and there’s a lot of danger in the world now - there’s anger and hate and selfishness. But I’m still inspired and I still have hope that we can create a better world than the one that we currently live in. I’m inspired by the friends and family in my life and the people I’ve met through work and in class. But I’m also inspired by some of the people in power today, especially most of the women in power. Having these women in power has given me hope that I can also make a difference in the world- despite anything that would be fighting against me.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

                                                                Photo courtesy of AZ Quotes

Justice Ginsburg, also known as RBG, is one of my heroes, or should I say heroines. She experienced a consistent flurry of adversity throughout her life. Her mother, who encouraged a love for education in Justice Ginsburg, died the day before she graduated from her school. She graduated at the top of her class in Cornell in 1954 and during her first year at Harvard Law, her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. She was one of the nine women in a class of 500 and while her husband was sick, she kept him up-to-date with his school work and was also able to stay at the top of her class. She was also a mother while she was in law school and faced gender-based discrimination everywhere she was. When her husband accepted a position in New York City, she transferred to Columbia law school and graduated first in her class in 1959.

But this was the 1960s and gender-based discrimination was still rampant and despite her impressive academic record, Ginsburg still had difficulties finding a job. In the 1970s she directed the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and led the fight against gender discrimination and won six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She started her career as a justice fighting for women’s rights, as she did when she was a lawyer. And throughout her career as a justice she worked hard to earn her position as one of the U.S. Supreme Court justices in 1993. She continues to fight for equality and civil rights and continues promoting women’s rights in court. Despite the health setbacks she’s had over the years, she still returns to Court. She went back to court after previous procedures like when she had fractured her rib and the two times she had been treated for cancer. This past January was the first time she had missed arguments because she had two malignant nodules removed from her left lung.  

Fun fact: when I got my first acceptance into law school, I was with one of my best friends, who is also planning on pursuing a career in law. We were getting dinner before watching On the Basis of Sex, which is a movie about Justice Ginsburg. Watching her story and knowing that mine is just about to start was inspiring and gave me even more of a reason to pursue a career in law.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

                                                                Photo courtesy of Axios

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has taken Congress by a storm and I have to say I love it. She constantly takes a stand for really important issues that I personally believe in. One of the recent videos that’s surfaced was her argument for climate change and how this is not an elitist issue. AOC had risen faster than any politician, as she was bartending and waitressing in New York two years ago at this time. She represents the 14th District of New York and is the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. AOC wants Medicare for all, “a single payer health care system that would cover medicine, vision, dental, and mental health care.” She also wants fully funded public schools and universities and to cancel all student debt. She also believes that there should be a “baseline quality for employments that guarantees a minimum $15 wage which would be pegged to inflation, full healthcare, and paid child and sick leave for all.” One of the issues that we’ve been looking at closely in my Political Science classes is housing, or rather lack of available and affordable housing, and AOC actually believes that housing is a right and “wants to extend tax benefits to working- and middle-class homeowners as well as expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, provide housing for the homeless and permanently fund the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.” These are just some of the topics on her platform. She is absolutely fearless and determined in her pursuit of justice and her fight for those in need. 

Sylvia Earle

Sylvia Earle in 2015 in Arctic Pack ice for the Elysium Artic Expedition; photo courtesy of Academy of Achievement


I first learned about Sylvia Earle in my Current Issues in Marine Biology class my sophomore year. I loved this class and the topic, and I think being environmentally aware and being knowledgable of your impact is incredibly important. Sylvia Earle is known for her research on marine algae and her books and documentaries that raise awareness of the consequences of overfishing and pollution on the oceans. She pioneered the use of "modern self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear and the development of deep-sea submersibles." She was the first woman to serve as the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She started the Mission Blue Sylvia Earle Alliance which implements communications campaigns that bring more awareness to Hope Spots, which are areas that need new protection as well as other marine protected areas. These are called Hope Spots because they provide the following: a diversity of species, particular populations of rare or threatened species, the presence of natural processes, significant historical, cultural or spiritual values, economic importance to the community, or is a site with potential to reverse damage from human impacts. Her Ted Talk is not only inspiring, but is a call to action for all of us to make better choices about our lifestyle so we can try to mitigate the damages we've already done to our oceans.

Angela Merkel

                                                                Photo courtesy of Forbes

Angela Merkel is serving her fourth term as the Chancellor of Germany and became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005. She acts as the "de facto leader of Europe" with her leadership marked by her "steely reserve." From actions she's made to stand up to Donald Trump and allowing more than a million Syrian refugees into Germany as well as leading Germany through their financial crisis and then back to growth, Merkel represents a woman in power perfectly. Forbes has Angela Merkel listed as #1 of Power Women 2018 and #4 of Powerful People 2018.


From all these women, I've learned several things. I've learned that in the face of adversity, you can stand strong. Regardless of what might hold you back or what life throws at you, if you can find it in yourself to stand up for what's right, you can make some amazing changes in the world. We should be as fearless and determined in pursuit of what we're passionate about. Never be scared of our ambition or drive because we never know where it will take us. Don't be afraid to educate yourself, to be stubborn and hard working. Despite criticism or the way society is structured, you have more power in yourself than you know, and maybe in a few years, you can contribute to making the changes the world needs.