In life as well as in society role, models play a crucial role in helping and inspiring others to act or to emulate them. This is certainly true for me -- I often look to others for inspiration, advice, and guidance.
One of my favorite inspiring figures in today’s society is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School, going on to become a staunch courtroom advocate for the fair treatment of women while working with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.
There is no doubt that her personal experiences as a woman, intellectual, and minority law student in a male-dominated field had a great impact on her life. In a recent documentary about her life, she shared information about the obstacles she faced from the moment she became a law student at Harvard University. When looking at her immense success it is really hard to imagine, almost 60 years later, the many challenges that now Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg faced at the start of her career. Despite this, she has become a social leader in fighting injustice. Such challenges not only contributed to shaping her character; they also developed in her a sense of urgency to challenge the status quo.
When reflecting on Justice Ginsburg and her career, I cannot help but be inspired by her story and her struggles to overcome gender inequality. As an educator, there are two characteristics that I dearly admire about her. The first one is her commitment to promoting equality, and the second is her personal dedication to advocating for those who do not have equal access to opportunities. Such characteristics are especially important in achieving social equality and educational equity.
Socially, and specifically in the field of education, there is no doubt that there are still many obstacles that impede attaining equal access to educational opportunity, especially for minority students. Some of these issues might include poverty, gender, race and/or socioeconomic status. Therefore, educators must pay close attention to these issues when working with minority students. It is my belief that educational equity is more than just giving the opportunity for less privileged students to attain a good education. For me, in order to achieve this, it is necessary to provide students with the support they need to be successful when pursuing opportunities. Thus, advocating on behalf of others who do not have the same access to educational opportunity and investing oneself in achieving social change demands, first and foremost, a personal commitment and a change in mindset. I challenge you to consider these ideas as you work with students, and in our educational system.
WATG Board Member