Inspiring Women: Hillary Clinton

As the days for Hillary Clinton to step down as Secretary of State are nearing, we take a look at this amazing woman who has led an extraordinary public life as then-First Lady to then- US President Bill Clinton, and now serving as the 67th US Secretary of State. Despite all, Hillary Clinton remains an enigma.

I thought I know Hillary Clinton. A tough nut Yale Law School graduate, married Bill Clinton right before he was elected Arkansas Attorney General, strong advocate in children’s law and family policy, stood firmly by her husband through many public scandals, ran for President in 2008, lost to Obama and ended up serving as the US Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

But as I stumbled upon an article in Marie Claire and did more research of my own, I realised I really don’t know anything. Who is Hillary Rodham Clinton? More specifically, who is the lady behind this public figure?

5 Things I Did Not Know About Hilary

1. Spelling of ‘Hillary’
Hillary once said that her mother named her after Sir Hillary Edmund, the first mountaineer to scale Mount Everest. This gave reason for the usual two ‘ll‘ in her name. However, it was found out later that she was in fact, not named after the famous mountaineer. Instead, it was Hillary’s mother who told her so to inspire greatness in her daughter. The way Sir Hillary Edmund had inspired greatness and achieved the seemingly impossible.

2. It is all in the family name
When she married Bill in 1975, Hillary insisted to keep her maiden name. Despite upsetting her own mother and new mother-in-law, this was her way of maintaining a degree of separation between them. “Because it showed that I was still me” she said. But due to her husband’s public campaigning efforts, Hillary was advised to start using the Clinton name. So when it comes to running for President, she is ‘Hillary Clinton’. But when it comes to her official senate releases and books, she is ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton’.

3. Master of her own fate
I knew Hillary is an incredibly driven person. But what I did not know is the extent to how determined an individual she really is. The poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, comes to mind as I read more about Hillary. Bill and Hillary met in Yale University’s library when Hillary took matters into her own hands, strode up to Bill and said to him “If you are going to keep staring at me, I might as well introduce myself”.

Bill eventually graduated and went to Arkansas to begin his political career, while Hillary remained in Washington, D.C as part of the congressional committee investigating President Nixon’s misdeed in office. But one day, her friend found Hillary packing her bags. She asked “What are you going?”. “I am going to Arkansas to marry Bill.” Hillary replied. To which her friend said, “Does Bill know about this?”. “No, but he will” was the response.

4. Grace is her weapon
When she lost the Presidential campaign in 2008 to Obama, not only did this woman accept defeat, but she gave a passionate speech supporting Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. This, of course, led to her serving as US State of Secretary under his administration. This offer was not so much because she needed him, but rather, Obama (made it very clear) needed her on his team. And over the years, she has managed to turn many of her adversaries into her strongest supporters. Through grace.

5. The consummate professional
Hillary is a professional to the tee – in politics and in personal life. What she accomplishes in a day, most of us would be scraping through in a month. “I can’t stand whining” Hillary declares to a magazine reporter. This is how, I believe, she keeps going and going and going.

It is amazing how many roles Hillary takes on and juggles them so well: from high-flying lawyer, First Lady to the Senator, First Lady to the President, best-selling author, public activist for children and women rights, State Senator, international diplomat, advocate for health insurance coverage and public health awareness; not to mention, mother, wife, daughter and sister. What exactly is this woman made of?

She once said,

“Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is. For me, the balance is family, work and service.”

To read more about Hillary and what inspired me to write this post, click on Marie Claire’s latest feature titled ‘Is This Really Goodbye?‘. It is a well-written article by a correspondent who follows Hillary Clinton on a tour of duty in Africa to find out if she really means to step down as secretary of state, and ultimately…slow down.

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