Clarksburg, Maryland, U.S.A. – When I was in second grade, my social studies assignment was to create a poster of a U.S. Supreme Court justice. I don’t know why I picked Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but that one messily drawn poster changed my life.
Ginsburg was a trailblazer in women’s rights, a voice for equality and justice. But to an impressionable little girl – now a teenager – living in a world plagued by sexism, racism, and inequality, Ginsburg was a beacon of hope and an inspiration.
She championed the rights of all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
My heart filled with hope when my mother showed me a 2006 interview with CBS News when Ginsburg said, “Think back to 1787. Who were ‘we the people’? … They certainly weren’t women … they surely weren’t people held in human bondage. The genius of our Constitution is that over now more than 200 sometimes turbulent years that ‘we’ has expanded and expanded.”
But Ginsburg didn’t just show me that the government and law is changing, but that I had the power and intellect to create the change.
Despite having all the odds stacked against her, Ginsburg showed the world that women and girls have a place in the government, that we can reinvent oppressive systems weaved in the fabric of our country.
Pushing past every obstacle stopping her from reaching the top, Ginsburg climbed into a seat that only one woman had sat in before.
Seeing that a girl like me could leap over everything thrown at her helped me get through my worst moments.
Every aspect of her life taught me to be strong and create change in the world, ideas ingrained into my brain since childhood through princess movies and house-cleaning games.
When I saw that Ginsburg graduated at the top of her class from Columbia Law School in 1959 as one of only a dozen women in the program that year, I started imagining a future where I wasn’t just a wife.
I saw myself going to college, getting a job, and building a legacy.
Learning that she continued university and completed her degree while raising her first child, I realized that starting a family and being an educated woman weren’t mutually exclusive.
The impact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on me could be described as nothing but life-altering. She lived with grace and intelligence, poise and power, and I hope that one day, I can make the same impression on someone the way she changed me.
RBG will forever be in my heart.
Sreehitha Gandluri is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.