Governor Eric Greitens appoints five Springfield women to statewide boards
Rosie is excited to celebrate the appointment of several local women to statewide boards and commissions. Governor Eric Greitens recently announced several appointments as part of his commitment to furthering women in Missouri leadership.
Amy Layman was named to the Children’s Trust Fund Board, which works to prevent child abuse. Layman is currently a member of the Child Advocacy Center’s board of directors.
Jody Austin, a probation officer with the Springfield Municipal Court, was picked for the Missouri Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, which aims to help young people who run afoul of the law.
Mary Bozarth and Kristen Tuohy were each named to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board, which hears appeals from people the state Children’s Division has accused of mistreating children.
Bozarth, a Springfield attorney, works as in-house counsel for Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and as an adjunct professor of criminology at Missouri State University. She has worked as an assistant attorney general in the Missouri attorney general’s consumer protection division.
Tuohy works as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Christian County and has previously worked as a public defender and assistant prosecutor elsewhere in southwest Missouri, including in Greene County. Like Bozarth, she also has spent time working as an assistant attorney general.
Betsy Miller, who runs the 2B Organized space planning firm, was appointed to the Missouri Women’s Council, which aims to help women on economic and employment issues. Miller is the founder and president of the Springfield Police Foundation and has worked at numerous local nonprofits.
These appointments come as part of the Governor’s recent promise to appoint 25 women in a span of 25 days to honor the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Foundation.
“Whatever your situation might be, set your mind to whatever you want to do and put a good attitude in it, and I believe you can succeed. You are not going anywhere just sitting on your butt moping around.”
Bethany Hamilton was born on February 8, 1990, in Lihue, Hawaii. She is the youngest of three children, and the only girl. Bethany’s childhood consisted of the relaxing sound of the waves coming to shore and the feeling of the warm sun on her skin. With surfing being a priority in Hamilton’s life, she was home schooled from 6th grade, but decided to return back to school to gain a normal high school experience.
All possibilities of normalcy went out the window on October 31, 2003. At the age of 13, Hamilton went surfing in the early morning along Tunnels Beach, Kauai with her best friend, Alana Blanchard, Alana’s father, Holt, and Alana’s brother, Byron. At around 7:30 AM a 14 foot long tiger shark attacked Hamilton and severed her left arm just below the shoulder. At the time there were numerous turtles in the area, and the shark probably mistook Hamilton’s dangling left arm for the animal it was hunting.
After the attack the Blanchard’s helped Hamilton paddle back to shore, and Holt quickly fashioned a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash, and wrapped it around the stump off of Bethany’s left shoulder. The Blanchard’s put Hamilton into their car and rushed her to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where a doctor was called in from a nearby hotel to perform lifesaving surgery on Hamilton. By the time they had arrived Hamilton had lost approximately 60% of her blood and had entered into hypovolemic shock. Her parents were already at the hospital when she arrived, but that was because Bethany’s father was scheduled to have surgery on his knee that morning. After the successful surgery, Hamilton spent about a week in recovery before she was released and returned to her home.
When the news of the attack broke a family of fishermen, led by Ralph Young, presented photos to investigators of a 14 foot long tiger shark they had caught and killed about a mile from the attack site. Upon investigation it was discovered that the dead shark had surfboard debris in its mouth, and when measurements were taken and compared to Hamilton’s broken board, they were found to be a match. In late 2004, the police officially confirmed that the shark the Young family had killed was the same shark that attacked Bethany Hamilton.
Despite the trauma that Hamilton suffered from the attack, she was determined to return to surfing as soon as possible. One month later, she did just that. Hamilton, with the help of her family, taught herself how to surf with just one arm. She had to kick more to make up for the loss of her left paddling arm, and required a slightly thicker than standard handle for her right arm, but now she surfs with the standard short competitive performance short boards. Less than a year after her attack, on January 10, 2004 Bethany Hamilton entered into her first of many major competitions. In that year and in 2005, Hamilton took first at the NSSA National Competition. Although 2005 is considered to be her bet year as a surfer, she has continued entering competitions, and just recently took third place in the 2016 Fiji Women’s Pro Competition.
Since the attack much of Bethany Hamilton’s life has become public, and many view her to be an inspirational figure. She has been asked several questions about her attack and has confirmed that she felt normal when she was bitten and did not feel much pain, but she also stated that on the way to the hospital she felt numb. So many people were curious about Bethany’s story that a movie was put into production, and on April 8, 2011, the movie Soul Surfer was released and made a total of $47.1 million at the box office. While promoting the movie Hamilton was asked in an interview if she had the chance to go back and change everything, and keep her arm, would she? Hamilton answered that she wouldn’t because she can embrace more people now with one arm then she ever could with two.
Bethany Hamilton could have easily admitted defeated that morning in October. She could have walked away from surfing and lived out her life trying to embrace whatever semblance of normalcy that she had left. Instead, Hamilton chose to rise to the challenge. She wanted to surf, and the loss of an arm was not a good enough excuse in her book. There are times in everyone’s life when we feel like a shark has come up out of the water and attacked us, ripping away a piece of us and severing it permanently from ourselves. Those moments can feel like the end, but they aren’t. If you stay calm and determined like Bethany, you can weather the storm and come out a survivor.
“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
*This Psalm was chosen by Suggs to be the epitaph for her book Shadow and Sunshine.
Eliza Suggs was born on December 11, 1876 in Bureau County Illinois to James and Malinda. She was the youngest of four daughters, and at the time of her birth she seemed to be perfectly healthy. Her parents had both been born into slavery, James in North Carolina and Malinda in Alabama, and had met on a plantation in Mississippi. When fighting broke out in the American Civil War, James enlisted and served in Company I, of the 55th United States Colored Troops. During his service he was wounded, but after his recovery he reenlisted and fought for the duration of the war.
After the end of the war James returned home and the family began to move around. They lived in three different states: Mississippi, Illinois, and Kansas, before finally settling down in Harlan County, Nebraska. While the family was moving James Suggs had a number of odd jobs, but once settled in 1873 he became a preacher for the Free Methodist Church.
Although when she was born Eliza Suggs appeared perfectly normal, it was soon discovered that she was anything but. At the age of four her mother reported that Eliza would incessantly cry. It took a entire day before Eliza’s mother realized that her daughter had a broken limb, and by the time that the bone had healed, Eliza had broken her arm. Even the slightest movement could cause the child injury, which caused her parents to believe that their daughter would not live much longer. When Eliza was about five years old her parents had her burial clothes made, convinced that they would have to use them in the coming years. It may seem cruel to some, but Eliza’s parents were almost praying for the death to come soon and relieve their daughter of her suffering. To the surprise of her parents, Eliza would not require the funeral dress her parents had ordered her at such a young age. In fact, Eliza would live far past expectations and survived into adulthood.
The childhood of Eliza Suggs was drastically different from those of her peers. For six years Eliza watched other children go to school and play with their friends from a window in her home. Unable to move, Eliza would sit in her baby carriage and watch the world, and the people of her town, carry on without her. A classroom for Eliza was eventually created but it was in the upstairs of her house, a place she could not reach without assistance and great difficulty. As long as Eliza was being pushed around in a baby carriage, the hope of going to a school house with other children was impossible. However, the impossible became possible one day when a family friend gifted Eliza with a special chair that allowed her family to push her around with greater ease. This chair made it possible for Eliza to attend a local school, as her mother or sisters were able to wheel her to and from school without much difficulty. The kindness of one person allowed for Eliza to dare to do what the world previously thought impossible, she became an educated woman.
While at the beginning of her life Eliza Suggs did not know what her affliction was, as medicine began to advance the doctors were able to diagnose her. At the time her particular disease was called Rickets, but we now know it as Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). Current research shows that there are over seven different types of OI, and that these types can show a number of different symptoms depending on the person. The most common occurrence in victims of OI is fragile bones that seemingly break without reason. The body almost seems to be betraying you because its purpose to remain strong and protect you, but instead it is crumbling. The mental and emotional turmoil that a betrayal like that can cause is astounding, and not something I imagine is easy to cope with.
Yet, Eliza Suggs managed her managed her diagnosis, and did not give in to grief or depression. Instead, she decided to take after her father and become involved in the temperance movement in the Methodist church. After her father died in 1889, Eliza and her sister Kate decided to leave Nebraska and strike out on their own. Together they would attend conferences, services, and camp meetings in an attempt to spread the word about Eliza’s story and her devotion to Christ. Suggs spoke of her suffering and how Christ had offered her a spiritual remedy. Although, she was physically ill she was comforted by the knowledge that once she left her body on earth she would be given a new body in heaven.
Eliza Suggs activism and passion was not solely reserved for the church, as she put pen to paper and wrote the novel Shadow and Sunshine, which was published in 1906. The book describes anecdotes from her mother about the cruel nature of slavery and the hardships individuals underwent during that time. One of the stories describes an older woman who married a younger man after emancipation. Both were struck with utter horror when the two found out that the man was actually the woman’s son, whom had been sold away at auction many years prior. The anecdotes emotionally trying, and go into detail about the atrocities that occurred during this ugly period of time. Eliza Suggs does not leave room for the imagination, because she wanted the readers to be informed of every detail her mother had shared. Leaving anything out would not spare people, it would only allow themselves to continue in their blind outlook on reality. In only 96 pages, Eliza Suggs was able to capture and preserve the dark under belly of American history.
Two year later, on January 29th, 1908, Eliza Suggs died in Orleans, Nebraska. She is currently buried in her family’s plot in the Orleans Cemetery. Eliza Suggs is not a woman that many people remember, but she should be. The Suggs family had expected for the Lord to take her before she turned 10 year old, yet she lived until the age of 32. People believed that she would remain by her household window in that old baby carriage until she died, but she got an education and became a published author and public figure. Eliza’s life was filled with the word no, but instead of listening to that word she held out hope that one day she would hear a yes. Her hopes needed only be answered once, it was that one yes that changed her reality. The gift of a chair somehow became a gift of life.
“We must be an inclusive nation that respects and supports all of its citizens, a nation that doesn’t give up on anyone who hasn’t given up on themselves”
Tammy Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand. Her mother, Lamai Somopornpairin, is Thai of Chinese decent; and her father, Franklin Duckworth, was a US Marine Veteran of the Second World War. After the war, Franklin went to work for the United Nations and other international companies that dealt with areas such as: refugees, housing, and development programs. Due to Mr. Duckworth’s work the family moved to Southeast Asia, which caused Duckworth to become fluent in three languages: Thai, Indonesian, and English. When Duckworth was 16 years old the family relocated and finally settled in Hawaii, although for a period of this time Duckworth’s father became unemployed and the family was reliant on public assistance programs.
In 1985, Tammy Duckworth graduated with honors a year early from McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is apparent that education is something of significance to Duckworth because in 1989, she graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, and later received a Master of Arts in international affairs from Washington University.
The Duckworth family had a rich history of military service, with Tammy’s father able to track his lineage to participants in the American Revolutionary War. With this family tradition in mind Duckworth joined the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corp as a graduate student at George Washington University in 1990. Two years later she became a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve, where she chose to fly helicopters. Her reasoning for this decision was that flying a helicopter was one of the only combat jobs offered to women at that moment in time. As a member of the Army Reserve, she went to flight school and later transferred to the Army National Guard. There she entered the Illinois Army National Guard in 1996. While in Illinois, Duckworth was working towards a Ph.D. in political science at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests were specifically in the political economy and public health of Southeast Asia.
However, her research was interrupted in 2004, as she was deployed to Iraq. It was there that she lost her right leg near the hip and left leg below the knee from injuries sustained on November 12, 2004. Her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, that she was co-piloting, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents. This unfortunate accident would put Tammy Duckworth in the history books, as she was the first female double amputee that came from the Iraq War. It was stated that the explosion, “almost completely destroyed her right arm, breaking it in three pieces and tearing tissue from the back side.” The doctors that operated on Duckworth had to reset the bones and stitch the cuts to save her arm. Unfortunately, the doctors could not do the same for her legs.
On December 3rd of the same year Duckworth received the Purple Heart, a military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the US military. Within the same month Duckworth was also promoted to the rank of Major. Despite the injury that Duckworth sustained, she was determined to continue her work for the United States Military. It was not until October of 2014 did Duckworth retire as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Illinois Army National Guard.
The story of Tammy Duckworth does not end with her retirement from the United States Military, instead, this just served as the start of a new chapter. Just before leaving the reserves, Duckworth was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. Once again Duckworth made history, this time as the first disabled woman to be elected to the House and as the first member of Congress to be born in Thailand. In 2014 she once again won reelected to her seat in Congress, with about 56% of the vote from her district. During her time in the House of Representatives Duckworth served on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
With sometime in the House of Representatives under her belt, Duckworth had her sights set on the US Senate, an announced she would be challenging an incumbent Senator for his seat in 2016. It was during a televised debate on October 27, 2016, that a critical event occurred for the Duckworth campaign. When answering a question Duckworth began to talk about her ancestors’ past service in the United States military. Then Senator Kirk responded, “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.” Kirk’s comment led to the Human Rights Campaign withdrawing its support from him and switching it to Duckworth. The Human Rights Campaign claimed that Kirk’s comments were “deeply offensive and racist”. On election night Duckworth won the seat with 54% of the vote. She now sits on four committees in the Senate: the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Tammy Duckworth is a woman that serves as an inspiration to the rest of the world. It would have been easy for her to retreat into solitude after the loss of her legs. Waking up every morning to be reminded that you are not whole is something that would take a toll on the average person, but not Tammy Duckworth. When a person encounters a disability within their life it often becomes their defining characteristic, and a stigma that they spend their entire life fighting off. Duckworth took that stigma and has turned it into her greatest strength. During her race for the House of Representatives Duckworth was quoted in saying, “The worst day for me in Washington on the floor of the House is never going to be as bad as me getting blown up. So bring it on.”
The harsh realities of life have met Tammy Duckworth in full force, but that has not stopped her. It serves as a lesson to the rest of the country: if it hasn’t stopped her, then why should it stop us?
Janelle Reed appointed to Springfield News-Leader Editorial Advisory Board
Rosie is excited to celebrate member Janelle Reed, who has been appointed to the Springfield News-Leader’s Editorial Advisory Board.
Reed is the founder of SingleMomzRock, a nonprofit that provides resources and support to single mothers throughout southwest Missouri. Reed is also the co-founder of Empowered for Life, a mentor based program to aims to lift single mothers out of poverty. She has previously served as a member of the Poverty Collaborative of Springfield, MO and Junior League of Springfield. Reed was the recipient of The Gift of Time award in 2015 presented by the City of Springfield and was nominated for the Most Influential Women award from Springfield Business Journal in 2015 and 2016. She remains active in the Springfield community and volunteers with several different area non-profits.
Springfield News-Leader Editorial Advisory Board
The Springfield News-Leader established the Editorial Advisory Board in late 2016, with the goal of providing additional perspectives to the publication’s editorial staff. Members of the advisory board meet regularly with editorial staff to discuss community issues, upcoming editorials, and various viewpoints. Members of the advisory board are also provided with opportunities to have their own opinions printed, which helps the publication achieve one of their missions of including more voices in the opinion section.
Members of the editorial advisory board will rotate regularly in order to incorporate a diverse representation of the community. Rosie member Kate Millington previously served on the editorial advisory board.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they learn to hate, they can be taught love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
This Nelson Mandela quotes serves as words of wisdom and/or inspiration that our featured woman, Kelly Cabrera, has chosen to live her life by.
Kelly Cabrera was born in Pereira, Colombia in South America to a low-income family in a poor neighborhood. Although in most people would fall into a cycle of circumstance, Cabrera took her childhood as a lesson in the importance that education played in a person’s ability to succeed in life. With neither of her parents possessing a college degree, Kelly Cabrera set her eyes on obtaining a college education to put her on a path to affluence. With the support of her family, especially her mother’s, she had the opportunity to go to attend the Universidad Catolica de Pereira where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Originally Kelly Cabrera aspired to a career as a dentist, however, her parents were unable to afford her participation in such a program, so she was left to get her degree in journalism. Luckily a few months into her education she started to love journalism, and after graduation she became the director of the Office of Communication at a prestigious Colombian University. From childhood Kelly Cabrera could tell that education was the silver bullet, the ability to gain an education could solve the problems of poverty, and that belief was only secured in her time as director. In her time there she decided to pursue involvement in graduate studies programs more related to education and the integration of media in the classroom. Kelly Cabrera ended up receiving her first master degree and her Ph.D in Education from Universidad Tecnologica de Pereira.
In 2009, Kelly Cabrera came to Springfield to learn English at Missouri State University and ended up falling in love with the city. Kelly Cabrera said, “Springfield is a great place because of its people. Its community is kind, open, and welcoming to others and that makes it a fantastic place for international students.” Kelly Cabrera would go on to earn two more master’s degrees from Missouri State and is now employed by the university. Kelly Cabrera serves as the Coordinator of the International Leadership and Training center. The center offers customized training programs for both professionals and people within the business community that are from other countries. She also acts as a recruiter for Latin American students that could attend Missouri State, and she teaches Spanish for the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. The best part of this career path, as described by Kelly Cabrera, is getting to know about a variety of countries and their cultures through interactions that she has with international students. Kelly Cabrera has said her job is, “like having the world in one place,” which gives her a chance to journey on explorations from the comfort of her own desk. The emphasis that Missouri State has placed on cultural competence, one of the three pillars of its Public Affairs Mission, has translated into people of different backgrounds feeling valued for their ethnic heritage and unique experiences.
Kelly Cabrera has looked back on her success and noted that her mother served as an inspiration to her. Cabrera and her two siblings were raised by a single mother without a college degree, which was not something that can be described as easy. Kelly’s mother emphasized to her children the importance of education from a young age, and that was a lesson that held true for each child. Now the three children of this poor single mother have gone on to become: a Doctor in Education, an Electronic Engineer, and a Lawyer. All three children saw the hope that their mother had for them and pursued an education that would secure those hopes. Struggles would inevitably come on their journey toward success, but in holding true to their dreams they were able to overcome those struggles.
The task of being a working woman in this world is not an easy one, but Kelly Cabrera has some advice to offer on the subject. She believes that women have shown that they are capable of doing anything that they set their minds to. Adversity is something that no woman will be a stranger to in their life, but that is not something that justifies conceding to defeat. Kelly Cabrera holds that even when you do not know exactly how to do something, being eager to learn will help you fill the knowledge gap and aid you in accomplishing your goal. Curiosity is something that separates humans from other species. Our curiosity fuels innovation, ingenuity, and creativity. Our curiosity makes it possible for us to look up at the stars at night and know that the capacity that we once set for ourselves is now limitless; and in the absence of these limitations we see minorities of every caliber, whether that be in race, religion, or gender, achieving feats that were well beyond the scope of our imagination just years prior.
More than 100 organizations sign Rosie Makes Cents equal pay pledge
Rosie is thrilled to announce that more than one hundred organizations have signed the Rosie Makes Cents equal pay pledge.
Since launching the pledge on April 4, 2017 the region’s business community has shown a tremendous amount of support for the initiative. The pledge was launched on equal pay day, an event developed by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.
Experts estimate that women in the state of Missouri earn 78 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts make.
The pledge reads:
“We are committed to making Springfield, Missouri a great place for everyone to live and work, and recognize the important role that local businesses play in reducing Missouri’s pay gap. We are committed to equal pay for equal work.”
Rachel Anderson and Paige Oxendine, founders of Rosie, said “We consider ourselves lucky to have such a supportive and responsive business community. From the moment we initiated the pledge we were met with overwhelming support.”
Rosie celebrated pledge signatories at the Rosie Makes Cents Celebration and Brosie Launch Party on September 27 with nearly 200 community members in attendance.
Mary Bozarth appointed to Diaper Bank of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors
Mary Bozarth appointed to Diaper Bank of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors.
Bozarth serves as In-House Counsell at Little Sunshine Enterprises in addition to serving as an instructor at Missouri State in the criminology department. Bozarth is active in a number of community organizations, including the Junior League of Springfield, where she serves as the Assistant Chair of New Membership. Bozarth resides in Springfield with her husband, Chris, and her daughter, Madeline.
Diaper Bank of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors
The Diaper Bank of the Ozarks was established to keep our community’s babies healthy and happy by providing access to diapers for families in need and through education concerning alternative diapering options that promote health and financial responsibility. The Diaper Bank of the Ozarks has touched the lives of over 25,000 babies over the past four years by distributing over 1,000,000 disposable diapers and over 200 cloth diaper starter kits. Between 40,000 and 50,000 diapers are donated to 35 local partner agencies in Greene County and other rural partners reaching into 22 of our outlying counties, who then distribute to families in need.
Julia de Burgos, our third Woman of the Week, is a more tragic figure than some of the other featured women. Although her story does not contain a “happy ending” typical of posts like these, that does not make the story any less important to tell.
Julia de Burgos was born on February 17, 1914, in Carolina, on the island of Puerto Rico. The tribulations of Burgos’ life started from a young age. She was born the oldest of thirteen children, but saw six of her younger siblings die as a result of malnutrition. The Burgos family ended up moving from Carolina to Santa Cruz, where Burgos would graduate from Munoz Rivera Primary School in 1928. Following her graduation she was awarded a scholarship to attend University High School in Rio Piedras. Unable to turn down the opportunity for a greater education, the family once again packed up their home and moved. Education became an important theme in the life of Julia de Burgos, and in 1931, she enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, to pursue a degree in teaching.
The future was looking bright for 19 year old Julia de Burgos. In 1931, she graduated with her teaching degree and she secured a job at Feijo Elementary School in Barrio Cedro Arriba of Naranjito, Puerto Rico. During her time as an elementary school teacher, Burgos also worked as a writer for a children’s program on public radio. Ever an outspoken woman, Julia de Burgos used the public radio as a platform to spread her political beliefs to a captive audience. Unfortunately, Burgos was allegedly fired from the program for giving her activism a voice on the radio. Although a roadblock, Burgos did not let her termination bring about the end to her advocacy. In 1936, she became a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and was elected Secretary General of the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Nationalist Party. During this time she attempted to plant the seeds of Puerto Rican independence into the hearts of her fellow islanders.
The passion that Burgos showed in her participation with the Nationalist party was also reflected in her writings. She published a total of three books, but the last was published posthumously in 1954. The style of her writing was lyrical poetry, and each poem would focus on at least one of three major themes. She was either writing about intimacy, the land she came from, or the social struggles of oppressed groups. Many believe that Julia de Burgos was a writer ahead of her time. Her work has been asserted to anticipate the writing of several iconic feminist and Hispanic authors.
At the time it seemed that the story Julia de Burgos was going to leave behind would be one of inspiration. She had overcome adversity, gotten an education, and created a life for herself based on her fundamental beliefs. Unfortunately, that is not how her tale ends. What undermined her in the end was one of the three main themes that Burgos found herself writing about. Intimacy proved to be something that Burgos would struggle with throughout her life. In 1934, she married Ruben Rodrigues Beauchamp, but in 1937, they were divorced. After her divorce she began to take romantic interest in a Dominican physician named Dr. Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullon. It is said that many of her poems at this time focused on the love that she held for Grullon, but after a trip to Cuba that the two took together tension began to show in their relationship. She ended up leaving him on the island, and booking passage to New York City, where she would meet her second husband Armando Marin. This final attempt at love ended the same as the first, and in 1947 the marriage ended in divorce. It is said that the divorce caused Burgos to lapse into both depression and alcoholism.
The decline of the poet began after her second divorce, and in 1953, she wrote one of her last poems. The poem was title Farewell in Welfare Island and it is throughout the text Burgos foreshadows her own death. The last time that Burgos was seen alive was June 28, 1953. After that day she had left the home that she was staying in and disappeared without a trace. It was later discovered that she had collapsed on a sidewalk in Spanish Harlem. She had died of pneumonia in a Harlem hospital at the age of 39. With no one to claim her body the city gave her a pauper’s burial in a potter’s field. After some time Burgos friends and family got word of her death and were able to claim the body and have Julia sent home to Puerto Rico. There she received a hero’s burial, and a monument was erected in her honor at her burial site.
The life of Julia de Burgos offers many lessons to the people of today. All of us have the potential to be the hero of a story, but that potential can become the very thing that brings about our own downfall. Julia de Burgos allowed for the failures of her love life to become her legacy, which brought her nothing but sorrow; if she had only looked a little harder she would have seen that she was wrong. Since her death, Burgos has been honored by the Spanish Department at the University of Puerto Rico with an honorary doctorate in Human Arts and Letters. She has also been honored in: Carolina, Puerto Rico, New York City, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Willimantic, Connecticut. All of these places and people beyond her failures, and chose to honor the innovative author. We are all human, and mistakes are an inevitable part of life, but we do not need to allow those mistakes to rule our lives. In the end, we can find Julia de Burgos to be an inspiration. Her ideals and passion can move us, but her ending serves to teach us. The only way for us to achieve the ever coveted “happy ending” is to let go our trials and keeping walking the path we have laid out for ourselves.
“There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, difficulty can tap unexpected strength.”
Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954, in the New York borough of The Bronx. Both of her parents, Juan and Celina Sotomayor, were native Puerto Ricans that came to the continental United States during the Second World War. When Sonia was nine years old her father died of heart problems at the age of 42, leaving her to be primarily raised by her mother and grandmother. Following her father’s death, Sonia became fluent in English. She gained inspiration from the Nancy Drew book series, and wanted to become a detective too. This career path was discouraged by doctors though, because at the age of seven Sonia was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. With an understanding that she could not be a detective like Nancy, Sonia decided she wanted to pursue a legal career as a judge.
In 1976, Sonia Sotomayor took her first step to reaching that dream by graduating Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University. She first described her experience at Princeton as, “a visitor landing in an alien country,” but she eventually found her stride at the University after realizing that she just had to work a little harder than other students. Just after her graduation, Sotomayor married her longtime boyfriend, Kevin Edward Noonan, and took the name Sonia Sotomayor de Noona. In 1979, Sotomayor received her J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence) from Yale Law School, and in the following year she was admitted to the New York Bar.
The first four and a half years after receiving her law degree Sotomayor worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York. After those years she began her time in private practice, where she had an active presence on many boards of directors. Some of these boards include: The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the State of New York Mortgage Agency, and the New York Campaign Finance Board. In 1991, her work caught the attention of President George H.W. Bush, who nominated Sotomayor to the Southern District Court of New York. The nomination process continued for Sotomayor, as in the 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Her confirmation process was held up for a period of time by the Republican Senate, but she was eventually confirmed in 1998. During her time as a judge for the Second Circuit, Sotomayor heard more than 3,000 cases and wrote approximately 380 opinions. During this time she also taught at both New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.
Sonia Sotomayor’s life changed permanently in May of 2009, as President Barack Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice David Souter. In the Senate it takes a majority of 51 votes to confirm a Justice to the Supreme Court, and in August of 2009 Sotomayor was confirmed by a vote of 68-31. Sonia Sotomayor has been granted a number of distinctions with her confirmation. She is the first justice of Hispanic heritage, the first Latina, the third female justice, and the 12th Roman Catholic to join the court. Her time on the Supreme Court has been marked by concerns for the rights of defendants, calls for criminal justice reform, and passionate dissents regarding issues of race, gender, and ethnic identity.
By no means did Sonia Sotomayor have a childhood that set her up for greatness, but she did not let that define her. Instead she rose to every challenge she met, and continued working toward her dream. She was not deterred by the idea of hard work, instead it only added to her determination. We can all stand to learn from this Supreme Court justice, because she showed us just how strong we can be. There is no bigger barrier to our success beyond our own self-doubt, and once we overcome that obstacle everything else is a matter of ease.