Why Hillary Clinton Is Much More Than Just a Presidential Candidate

Hillary Clinton, Women's History MonthHillary Clinton is a former FLOTUS, senator, and secretary of state and a current wife, mom, grandma, and presidential candidate. On her Twitter profile, she also declares herself a "hair icon" and "pantsuit aficionado," which sounds about right. She is, no doubt, one of the most influential figures of our time, and a powerhouse worthy of our attention during Women's History Month.

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While "hair icon" and "pantsuit aficionado" are noteworthy descriptors, being a trailblazer for women is already what is defining her legacy.

Who She Is

Hillary Rodham was born October 26, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. This is a picture taken during her undergrad days at Wellesley College, somewhere between 1965 and 1969, when she graduated with honors in political science at age 22, and not long before she entered Yale Law School, where she met now-husband Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton Wellesley

Something about this photo really hits me in the gut.

Maybe it's because Hillary looks so young and carefree. Maybe it's staring into the eyes of a young woman who had no idea, then, all the places she was going, all the hurdles ahead, and all the barriers and accomplishments before her. Or maybe it's just the "holy s**t" factor that this young woman, who doesn't look much different than I did at her age, could be the next president of the United States.


How She Is Shaping History

There's simply no denying that Hillary Clinton is shaping history. But to give you a little refresher course, here is a short list of some of her accomplishments. 

1. Hillary Rodham was one of just 27 women in her graduating class at Yale Law School. That's pretty crazy considering that about 117 women were part of the net admits for the 2014–2015 admissions cycle. (That class was 45 percent female; still not enough, if you ask me ...)

2. After law school, Hillary went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, and her work therein helped pass legislation that required the state to provide students with disabilities with a quality education. 

3. In 1979, she was named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas.

4. She served with husband Bill, as the First Lady of Arkansas, during his terms as governor (1979–1981 and 1983–1992), while continuing to practice law.

5. Hillary Clinton became a mom in 1980. Welcome, Chelsea! 

Hillary Bill Chelsea Clinton

6. During Bill Clinton's two terms as president of the United States (1992–2000), Hillary probably did many of the traditional First Lady duties, but she also fought to reform our health care system. "Hillarycare," as it was nicknamed, failed in 1994, but in President Clinton's second term, Hillary worked with Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch to create the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which expanded health coverage to millions of lower-income children. 

(Way back in 1993, long before the popular 2012 #TextsfromHillary meme went viral, there was #GameBoywithHillary, but it didn't really get off the ground ... I guess, because hashtags and Tumblr weren't even invented yet ... )

7. In 2000, Hillary Clinton was elected to the US Senate (2001–2009).

8. In 2008, she ran a trailblazing campaign for president of the United States of America, although she ultimately lost the nomination to now-president Barack Obama.

9. In 2009, Hillary Clinton became the 67th United States Secretary of State (2009–2013). 

10. In April 2015, Hillary Clinton once again announced her candidacy for the presidency.

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Her Words to Live By

One of my all-time favorite Hillary Clinton quotables comes from her 1995 address at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing. She gave a groundbreaking speech against the abuses of women around the world, declaring on the world stage: 

Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights once and for all.

Hillary Clinton

It still gives me chills.

Another moment in badass Hillary quotables appeared in a profile published in the December 2009 issue of Vogue magazine, in which Hillary stated: 

Whether I am meant to or not, I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which I'm well aware of, but that's just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfinished business in human history -- empowering women to be able to stand up for themselves.

Preach, Madam Secretary!

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Why She Inspires Me

Hillary Clinton has been doing this thing since before I was even born. She's been following a set path and persevering while dodging all the naysayers and B-bombs and take-down pieces being lobbed her way -- and frankly, there's no end in sight for her.

But I think the real inspiration has to be the very thing that the photo above of the smart, driven, just-starting-out, hasn't-even-met-Bill-Clinton-yet Hillary Rodham stirs in me.

That young woman in the photo has no idea how close she will come to becoming president of United States. She probably doesn't even consider, yet, the possibility. Because she herself will still have to work hard and wait four decades to be the woman who is now closest yet. And will she get there? No one really knows. Especially not the 20-something, just-starting-out, hasn't-even-seen-a-woman-president-yet who's staring into a camera right now with absolutely no idea how big her future may be. 

 

 

Images via Lynne Goldsmith/Corbis; Sygma/Corbis; William J. Clinton Library

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