Role Models & Heroes: Hillary Clinton (2018)

By October 13, 2018 February 13th, 2019 Bnei Mitzvah, Heroes & Role Models

The following essay about role model Hillary Clinton was written by Jordan Klein, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

I have chosen Hillary Clinton as a role-model not only because she is a strong woman, but also because of the connection I have with her. Living in Chappaqua I have seen Hillary around town many times, at school, and in the Memorial Day parade. Every year she marches in the parade as part of the community. My family is lucky enough to live two blocks from her, and have the privilege of being her neighbor. I remember when I was little, I would see Hillary at my school. I didn’t really know why I knew her, but I knew she was special.

When I was eight, she wrote her book, Hard Choices. My mom really wanted to go to the library to get her copy signed. We waited for over two hours. This is when I truly realized how important Hillary was to my family. Over those two hours my mom thought of all the things she could say to her, but once we got to Hillary, there were no words; my mother was speechless. I had seen Hillary on TV, so I knew she was famous, but I didn’t know that she was so important to my mother until I saw how in awe she was. I then understood that my mother looked up to her.

Not until this past election did I myself start to look up to her, too. When Hillary announced her candidacy for President in 2015 my mother was so excited, she was going to watch every Democratic primary debate until the end, and we did. I started to see why my mother liked her so much. She was a fighter. Then the New York primary arrived. My mom took me out of school to go and see her. We made a sign saying, “Chappaqua Kids For Hillary!” On primary day, we were interviewed at my school for a few newspapers because of our sign, but the main reason we were there was to show our support for her. She walked up to us, she signed our poster, and she even posed for a picture with my family. We still have that poster and we will never get rid of it.

Over the election we continued to campaign for Hillary. We put signs on our lawn, mom went phone banking, she wrote letters to people in North Carolina, and so much more. But we didn’t get to see her again in person until the morning of the election in November 2016. My mom and I saw her when her plane came into White Plains. We waited and waited, sleepy but excited, we had almost lost all feelings in our fingers from the cold of the night air, but it was worth it to see Hillary.

All of these moments are important to me because they show me how devoted my family is. When I think about this election, I think about how much time my mother put into Hillary’s campaign. She showed me how important having a woman in office was. I think that the reason my mother and I are drawn to the idea of a strong woman as our leader is due to all the strong women in our family. My great-grandmother, Sadie, is the first strong woman who pops into my head. My mother tells me of how, in the 1920s, she dreamed of becoming a rabbi, a position of authority in the community which was quite uncommon for women to hold in her time. She was extremely dedicated to her religion.

I also think of my grandmother, Sandy. Although my grandfather was the ideas-man behind his business, I’m told she organized the business, paid the bills, and on top of that took care of my aunt and father. My grandma Joyce is known in her family as the matriarch ever since she inherited that role from my great-grandma Jean. Both my great-grandma Jean and grandma Joyce were quietly powerful women. They didn’t assume official positions of power, but they never shied away from voicing their opinions and guiding their relatives and children to good choices. They are/were both wise women.

I believe that female strength was passed down through the generations, so my two aunt Lisas are both intellectual and accomplished women and so is my mother. As I said before, my mother is extremely devoted to everything she does: her work, her family, and her politics. My mother doesn’t stop until everything is done to her high standards.

This leads me back to Hillary. She never lets anyone stand in her way. That’s what’s so inspiring about her. I believe she got this fighting spirit from her mother. When Hillary was young, her mother taught her to never let a bully get in your way. This stayed with Hillary all the way to the recent election. When Hillary was in sixth grade, she wrote an essay called, “My Future.” She wrote of her plans as an adult, but she didn’t just write about one idea; she had many dreams. She wanted to be a teacher, then a nuclear physicist, and then an astronaut. A few years later the President sent the first man to the moon, and Hillary sent NASA a letter asking about becoming an astronaut and they wrote back saying, “We are not accepting women into the program.” This was Hillary’s first encounter with sexism. But being who she is, she didn’t let it get in her way.

She started to develop her own opinions in politics. She had grown up listening to her father’s biases against Democrats, blacks, Jews, and Catholics. Hillary grew frustrated and rebelled. Hillary was not a typical girl. Yes, she liked the Beatles, was excited to get Rolling Stones concert tickets, and enjoyed sports. But she didn’t want to wear makeup, she took classes with football players with no other girls, and ran for class president, which were pretty unusual for girls at the time. Hillary didn’t care what others thought. She just enjoyed what she was doing.

I feel connected to Hillary in this way. I’m not one to be like other girls, I’m not very interested in the “normal” things girls do. But I don’t mind, I am how I am. And that is okay with me. Hillary was accepted to Wellesley College. Many other women there were looking to find a good husband, while they got a good education, but Hillary was there to learn. In her first semester, Hillary felt alone and overwhelmed. She called her parents and told them she didn’t belong there. Her father gave her permission to come home, but her mother said no. She told Hillary she didn’t want her to be a quitter, so she stayed.

I think that this experience is something that makes Hillary who she is. She was taught that you can’t give up. This stayed with her in her relationship with her husband, her work, and so much more. Hillary went on to Yale Law School, and stood out as one of thirty-six women in a class of 237. She met Bill there and when they graduated, Bill wanted to go home to Arkansas. She turned down Bill’s proposal because she wanted to continue working before she got married, which is something I look up to her for.

This is when Hillary began her work with children. She was staff attorney for Marian Wright Edelman’s organization, The Children’s Defense Fund. She was doing what she had studied for, defending the rights of children. She soon had an opportunity to go to D.C. to work on Watergate. When she finished work there she went back to Bill and he ran for Congress, and they were married on October 11, 1975.

Arkansas got to know Hillary and learned that she was not the typical First Lady. She didn’t have children yet, had unstyled hair, oversized glasses, a career, and kept her maiden name, all unusual for the time. But soon after Hillary found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to Chelsea Victoria Clinton in February 1980. Hillary went back to work even though some people thought it was wrong. Later that year Bill lost the re-election. Hillary blamed herself. She thought the state didn’t like her style and behavior. She then underwent a personal makeover. She started wearing contact lenses, began to dye her hair, and wear makeup. There was one change left, her name. It was a tough decision, but just as Bill started his campaign for Governor, Hillary changed her name to Mrs. Bill Clinton, and she took a leave from work to help on the campaign.

I was surprised to learn that Hillary changed her image because of how much it seemed she didn’t care about others’ opinions of her. I think she did this so she and Bill could advance in the political world. Brains are very important in politics, but presentation is important as well when you want people to support you. I do believe that this is what Hillary had to do. She wanted a political career, and she wanted her husband to have a successful political career as well. So in the end, to me, it was a worthy sacrifice. Hillary worked very hard; she had Chelsea on her hip while she knocked on doors. Hillary taught Chelsea that you need to have a thick skin to be able to make it. Hillary passed down what she learned as a child to her daughter. Hillary stood by her husband through all of his elections. After Bill won the presidential election, comics came out about how Hillary and Bill were equals in the Oval Office. Hillary was not going to let her career go. She worked alongside Bill, trying to make sure all children were insured.

Hillary was named most admired woman in 1994 and 1995 by Gallup Poll. Bill won re-election, but was accused of and prosecuted for sexual harassment. Hillary stood by her husband protecting his reputation. Eventually Bill told her the truth: he had a relationship with Monica Lewinsky and lied to Hillary and the whole country. She was a strong woman, but this was more than she could take. He told the country the truth, without Hillary by his side for the first time. However, she stayed with him, showing her loyalty, and I look up to Hillary for this. I can’t imagine doing this, myself, but Hillary did it.

Hillary was ready to start her own political career. She looked at her options, and decided to go to New York to run for Senate. She became New York’s first female senator, and was also the first First Lady to take a government position. On September 11, 2001, Hillary had her first opportunity to show the people how she could handle big problems. She was at the scene of 9/11 immediately, she was going to be there with the people. Hillary worked very hard during the 9/11 aftermath. She kept going to make the country better and safer. In 2007 Hillary announced she would be running for President, being the first First Lady to seek the presidency. Hillary didn’t do too well in the first caucus, but she kept going, learning from her mistakes. In the end, Obama won the general election and took the presidency.

He offered her Secretary of State, which she eventually accepted. She traveled to other countries and worked hard.While Hillary was Secretary of State, the attack in Benghazi occurred. Hillary was tested, but sticking to her values, she didn’t let bullies intimidate her. She stood her ground. I don’t know if I could do that. I’ve learned from Hillary that standing your ground is important, and you can never let a bully stand in your way.

This leads me to our most recent election. On April 12th 2015, Hillary announced her candidacy for the second time, and she was ready to fight. Hillary worked very hard and won the Democratic nomination for president. She was the first woman ever to do that. She wore her suffragette white to represent all the women in our country. She was going to take a stand, not just for herself, but for everyone. It was a showdown between Hillary and Donald, and she stood her ground. She did the same thing she had been doing since she was young. After election day, at two in the morning Hillary conceded. This is another thing that I would have a hard time doing; after working so hard, I can’t imagine what that must feel like. But Hillary had to do it.

I look up to Hillary because of the person she is, and also because she is a woman, not only because of her political views. This is why I would like to recognize many of the high achieving female figures in power since I was born, including those with differing political views from my own, because girls and women benefit from their achievements, as well. Starting in 2005, the year I was born, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany. In 2007 Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. In 2008 Sarah Palin was picked by John McCain to be his Vice Presidential running mate, being the second woman nominated for this position; the first was Geraldine Ferraro. In 2009 Sonia Sotomayor became the third woman and first Hispanic to become a Supreme Court Justice. In 2014 Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, at age 17. In 2016 Hillary Clinton became the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major political party. Also in 2016, Kellyanne Conway was appointed Mr. Trump’s campaign manager and became the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign. She is now counselor to the President.

I stand on the shoulders of all of these women, regardless of political views, and they inspire me to do great things. After doing this research I’ve learned that Hillary Clinton is not a perfect woman. She has flaws, just like the rest of us. But what inspires me about her is that she doesn’t let that get in her way. She does what she wants to do, and what she thinks is right. And her work benefits all girls and women.