“I am a dedicated Democrat, a community activist, a Yale University legal scholar, and an attorney in New York City. But first and foremost, I am the daughter of political refugees whose story embodies the promise of life in America.”– Reshma Saujani
A fresh face in politics, Reshma Saujani is running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives against incumbent Carolyn Maloney in New York’s 14th Congressional district. Saujani, born to political refugees who escaped the devastating regime of Idi Amin in Uganda, has kept the idea of the American Dream close to her heart. Holding a master degree in Public Policy from Harvard and a law degree from Yale, Saujani is a strong believer in “dreaming big and finding your own way.” Saujani has followed a path to success as a hedge fund lawyer on Wall Street and now, a politician.
Ever since she was a child, Reshma Saujani was extremely passionate about law and public service. Saujani says her father, a prominent figure in her life, provided her with the tools for a successful career in both law and politics. “Law and politics were always in my interest. I always wanted to be an attorney. My father would read to me about Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt. They were inspiring because they were always working on social justice issues. That was very empowering to me.”
Following her childhood, Saujani used her teen years to build experience in social work. A first generation Indian-American, Saujani understood the importance of introducing diversity to her school and community. In high school, Saujani was president of PRISM – Prejudice Reduction Interested Students Movement – a group focused on celebrating the importance of diversity and combating prejudice. Saujani was also part of the Debate team and Model UN. “I did a lot in high school to prepare for attorney skills. In college, I was part of student government. I led marches and I was an activist. I was always committed to working on the community, changing my community, and helping my community. It was my drive from the beginning.” That drive and perseverance lead Saujani to an internship at the White House where she not only gathered a wealth of information about public policy but also allowed her passion for politics and public service to flourish. “I love my job. I absolutely love it. I love public service. I learn something new every day. I want to make this country a better place.”
Furthermore, when the INSPIRE@BTHS Team asked if being a first-generation Indian-American woman has ever held her back from doing anything, Saujani was very firm in her answer. “No,” she says. “It has never held me back.” On the contrary, it seems that being a first generation Indian-American woman has pushed her forward. Furthermore, her parents’ background and her experiences growing up function as a basis in not only her campaign for Congress, but also in her personal life. These factors help make up the strong, confident and incredible woman that is Reshma Saujani.
Saujani is also a strong believer in hard work and courage. She constantly stresses one idea: dreaming big. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Follow your heart. Do what you love and what you’re passionate about. Don’t worry about making money. Money will come. If you feel passionate about something, don’t wait. Get started on it immediately.”
The INSPIRE@BTHS Team then went on to ask Reshma Saujani a few questions out of the Marcel Proust Questionnaire. We believe that this is a great way to get to know our interviewee. Here is a bit of what Saujani had to tell us.
Favorite fictional character: Atticus Finch, the lawyer from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. He was a strong person who chose to fight for justice
Your most treasured object: A bracelet my father gave me when I was thirteen. I wear it whenever there is a big event that I feel anxious about.
The happiest moment of your life: When my baby niece was born. That was a great day.
Greatest extravagance: Black and white pictures.
Favorite journey: When I went to South Africa for the first time in 1998. I worked there after Nelson Mandela came to power.
Greatest achievement: Running for office.
Greatest influence: My father.
Motto for life: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
A passionate, determined and strong-minded woman, Saujani is working towards winning the Congressional seat. Brilliant, courageous, and caring, this woman is undoubtedly reaching for the stars. She’s working ardently to help rebuild Main Street and work with Wall Street. The INSPIRE@BTHS Team cannot wait to see what this phenomenal woman will do once in office. Best of luck with the campaign and stay strong!
So everyone, dream big. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something. Be assertive. Be curious and most importantly, be inspired.
Adieu and Arrivaderci everyone! Until next time on INSPIRE@BTHS.