Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first First Lady to be elected to the United States Senate, the first female US Senator from New York State, and only the third woman to serve as Secretary of State.
Raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, Clinton was an outstanding student. Initially active in politics as a young Republican, she received her bachelor’s with honors in Political Science, was valedictorian, and the first student in Wellesley history to deliver a commencement address. Deeply affected by the death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom she had met in 1962, and by her experience attending the “Wellesley in Washington” program, she joined the Democratic Party.
Clinton received her juris doctorate from Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action and where she met Bill Clinton in 1974. Clinton joined the Rose Law Firm in 1976, specializing in intellectual property issues, and providing pro bono work in child advocacy cases.
As First Lady of Arkansas, she continued to practice law, and chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Commission and the Rural Health Advisory Committee. As First Lady of the United States (1993 – 2001), she chaired the Task Force on National Health Care Reform that recommended the Clinton Health Care Plan. The controversy over her public role in leading health care policy reform was intense, but she continued as a staunch advocate of health care reform, women’s and children’s issues, arts, culture, and heritage promotion, throughout the Clinton Presidency. She is the author of Living History and It Takes a Village.
In 2007, Clinton entered the Democratic primary race for the 2008 Presidency by posting “I’m in. And I’m in to win.” on her website. In June 2008, Clinton conceded the primary race to eventual winner Barack Obama, but not before putting “18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling.” In December of that same year, President-elect Obama nominated Clinton to serve as Secretary of State, making her just the third woman to hold the Cabinet position. In 2015, Clinton is a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. President.
Along with Eleanor Roosevelt, Clinton is credited with substantively redefining the role of First Lady and opening new pathways for women in political leadership.