Heroine of the Week


Sonia Maria Sotomayor is the first from Latina origin and the third woman to sit on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Throughout her career, she has distinguished herself for her work on issues of race, gender, and ethnic identity, which she continues to do during her tenure in the Supreme Court. She backed the informal liberal bloc of justices when they showed dissents along the commonly perceived ideological lines. Considered a feminist and minority icon, she has drawn severe criticism from American right-wing activists.

Her Early life

She was born on June 25, 1954, in The Bronx, New York City, to Juan Sotomayor and Celina Báez. She has a brother, also named Juan Sotomayor, who has worked as a physician and university professor in the Syracuse, New York, area. Her parents, who are Puerto Ricans, migrated into America separately. Both eventually met and got married during in the US. Celina served in the 2nd world war as a member of the Women’s Army Corps, while Juan worked as a dying worker owing to his low educational background.

Growing up, Sotomayor lived in the Puerto Rican communities in the South Bronx and East Bronx. She grew up in a Catholic home and later came to identify herself as a “Nuyorican”, a portmanteau of the terms “New York” and “Puerto Rican”. Initially, the family stayed in a South Bronx tenement and in 1957 but later relocated to the well-maintained, racially and ethnically mixed, working-class Bronx dale Houses.

Her academic life was impeccable but she had a lot of issues at her home. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was emotionally distant. She only had the support of her grandmother which she described to be the source of “protection and purpose.” At seven, she was diagnosed with type one Diabetes and immediately started taking insulin injections.

When she was nine (9) years old, she lost her father and her mother became more distant until her adulthood. Though distant, Celina gave Sonia and her brother Juan good education. She stated that her mother has been the greatest inspiration in her life. She was also influenced by the fictional character Nancy Drew. She became interested in becoming a judge after she started watching CBS’ ‘Perry Mason’ television series. On the death of her father, she took extra efforts to become fluent in English. She attended Blessed Sacrament School and became the valedictorian with a near-perfect attendance record. She then studied at Cardinal Spellman High School in The Bronx, where she was part of the forensics team and was chosen as a representative in the student government. In 1972, she graduated high school as a valedictorian.

Her College and Career

She enrolled at the Princeton University on a full scholarship in 1972 owing to her impeccable academic performance and the best out of the candidates that applied. It was difficult in her early months at Princeton where assimilation was an issue. There was a significant gender gap at Princeton where few women were students. The number of Latino students was even more discouraging. She experienced difficulties in writing and did not possess enough knowledge of the classics. So she worked hard, spending long hours in the library and got a professor to help her out during the summer. This was the beginning of her political opinions. She was elected to co-chair the Acción Puertorriqueña, a student organization dedicated to building a large, united and healthy Puerto Rican community with a strong cultural identity in the Princeton campus.

She led the movement that brought a Latino faculty to Princeton. She was also active outside of the school. She headed an after-school program for local children and served as an interpreter for the Latino patients at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

She graduated from summa cum laude from Princeton in 1976 and enrolled at the Yale Law School in the fall of the same year on scholarship. She thrived at Yale unlike her experience in Princeton. She maintained good grades and was very active on the campus. She co-chaired a group for Latin, Asian, and Native American students and continued to advocate for hiring Hispanic faculty.

She landed her first job as an intern at Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison, a prominent law firm in New York, after her second year. Her performance there, by her own admission, was not particularly good and she was not offered a full-time position there. She cites this experience as a “kick in the teeth”. In 1979, she earned her J.D. from Yale and a year later, joined the New York Bar.

Photo source: FOX News Radio

Straight out of law school, in 1979, Sonia Sotomayor landed the job of an assistant district attorney under New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The response to her appointment with her community was conflicting, so were the emotions within her. She had to overcome her inherent shyness and muster enough courage to venture into rough neighborhoods to interview witnesses.

Legal Career

In 1983, she was instrumental in convicting the “Tarzan Murderer”, who gained notoriety in the early 1980s for entering into people’s apartments acrobatically and proceeding to rob and shoot the occupants. In 1984, she became an associate at a commercial litigation practice group named Pavia & Harcourt. While she had no prior experience in civil litigation, she learned on the job as her firm used her extensively. She was also involved in visible public service roles.

Despite not being connected to either political party as she was a registered independent, she held several important positions in the state government, including as one of the founding members of the New York City Campaign Finance Board from 1988 to 1992. Between 1980 and 1992, she served on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

While her impressive credentials had long marked her as a prospective federal district judge, her centrist political views had prevented both parties from recommending her. It all changed when Democratic New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended her for a post. She was subsequently nominated on November 27, 1991, to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George W. Bush and was confirmed by the unanimous consent of the US Senate on August 11, 1992. She got her commission the following day. Her tenure as a district court judge was mostly uneventful. She demonstrated that she had no qualms about ruling against the government and received high-ratings from liberal public-interest groups, while other groups considered her as a centrist.

After being nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on June 25, 1997, she encountered staunch opposition from the Republican majority in the Senate as they believed Clinton had plans to make her a Supreme Court justice during his presidential tenure. Eventually, however, she was confirmed on October 2, 1998.

During the ten years, she served on the second circuit, over 3,000 cases were brought before her and she penned down about 380 opinions where she was among the majority. She gave rulings on various significant issues, such as abortion, first, second and fourth amendment rights, alcohol in commerce, employment discrimination, civil rights, and property rights.

Photo source:

On Obama’s Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, Sotomayor started to be seriously considered for a Supreme Court seat. She was nominated by the President on May 26, 2009. While her candidacy was embraced by the Democrats and liberals, it faced heavy criticism from the Republicans and conservatives.

Right-wing personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich called her a “racist”, referring to a comment she had made in a 2001 Berkeley Law lecture, when she had said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

She was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 68–31 on August 6, 2009, effectively becoming the first justice of Hispanic ancestry and the first Latina in the Supreme Court. On 8 September, a ceremony was organized to formally welcome and invest her into the Court.

She administered Vice President Joe Biden’s oath of office for the inauguration of his second term on January 20 and 21, 2013. She is the fourth female Supreme Court judge to have such a distinction. She has gradually emerged as the most liberal voice in the US Supreme Court in recent history.

She has constantly sided with the progressive side in her rulings. However, that does not mean there have not been any exceptions. Demonstrating individuality, she agreed with Ruth Bader Ginsburg against fellow liberals Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan on the issue of the constitutionality of the Obama health care law favoring the poor and disabled.

Her other prominent rulings include the 2011 J.D.B. v. North Carolina when the apex court decided that age is relevant when determining police custody for Miranda purposes; the 2012 United States v. Alvarez, which resulted in the Court striking down the Stolen Valor Act; and the 2012 Arizona v. the United States, which nullified several features of the Arizona SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law.



In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir, titled ‘My Beloved World’, through Alfred A. Knopf. She has been a life-long fan of the New York Yankees. In 2016, Sonia Sotomayor received the Hispanic Heritage Award for leadership. She won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 9th Annual DVF Awards in 2018.

Through hard work and dedication, Sonia Sotomayor has accomplished everything she has set out to do. She has demonstrated that as long as you put your mind to something, you can do it! She is a perfect role model and a prime example that anything is possible. She is a great representative of the Hispanic community and is considered a hero!





Maria Corazon Aquino was the first female Philippines’ President. Originally, she was just a housewife, more interested in caring for her family and supporting her husband, Senator Benigno S. Aquino, in his political pursuit. Nevertheless, when Benigno was assassinated at the Manila Airport on his return from exile by Marcos’ men, she could no longer stay adamant. Soon after the death of her husband, she became the anchor point for the democratic movement in the Philippines and the most sacrosanct personality in People’s Power Revolution (PPR), also known as Yellow Revolution. This movement toppled the twenty year old regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. Owing to her resilience, she ended up becoming a leader in so many fronts in her country and was later became the President of Philippine.

Her Early Life Story

This lioness, Maria Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino was born in 25th of January 1933. In 1955 she got married to her husband, Benigno Aquino (Ninoy) after graduating from Mount St. Vincent College in New York City, a young politician. She supported her husband’s dreams a politician who later elected as a senator of the country. Corazon Aquino had five (5) children.

As an elected senator of the country, Ninoy Aquino her husband became a popular and persistent opposition to Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who was on the seat of the presidency since 1965. In 1972, Ninoy was imprisoned owing to his activism and support for a fair democracy in the country for eight long years and then exiled to the United States. When her husband Benigno Aquino was due to return to Philippine after serving his jail time in 1983, he was assassinated immediately he stepped into Philippine.

Her husband’s imprisonment, exile, and assassination caused outrage among his supporters and spurred Ferdinand’s opposition. The economic state of the country experienced further deterioration, and the government went into more debt.

After Benigno Aquino’s assassination, Corazon took his place as the leader of the opposition. There was a twist 1985 when Ferdinand suddenly announced an election to legitimize his hold on the country. Corazon as the leader of the opposition party was reluctant to run at initially, but after much persuasion by the supporters of her husband, she changed her mind and decided to run for the position of the president in her country.

In the course of her running for the presidential position, Ferdinand Marcos tried to tarnish her image with sexist statements, saying she was ‘just a common woman’ whose only expertise was just in the kitchen and the bedroom. Corazon in response to Ferdinand’s statement stated “May the better woman win in this election.” He further attacked her stating her inexperience in politics and public service. She also replied by admitting that she had “no experience in cheating, lying to the public, stealing government money, and killing political opponents.”

Ferdinand Marcos was declared the winner of the election after it was held in February 1986. Owing to the anomalies that marred the conduct of the election, lots of issues and agitations were raised about the outcome of the election. It was also condemned by the Catholic Bishops’ in their Conference in the Philippines and also by the United States Senate. The then President of America, Ronald Reagan called condemned the irregularities of the election and tagged the act ‘disturbing’.

Corazon Aquino solicited for support from her sympathizer and immediately organized peaceful civil disobedience protests and strikes and for mass boycotts of the media and businesses owned by Marcos. Her supporters and other Filipinos were very supportive. These popular, peaceful demonstrations came to be known as the People Power Revolution (PPR). As a result of the protests, Marcos ordered troops against the thousands of protesters (including whole families and nuns and priests) but not a shot were fired and the troops withdrew and many defected.

The political restiveness in the country made Ferdinand Marcos to flee the country to Hawaii in the United States in February 1986 thereby making Mary Corazon Aquino the first female President of Philippines.

Her taking over the number position as the President of her country marked a new civilization in the Philippines. Her few months in office as the President of the country ushered in great developments and changes both in the political and economic sector of the country. She immediately set up a Constitutional Commission that will be in charge of drafting a new constitution that ushered in the bicameral congress which limited the powers of the Presidency.

She also set up the Presidential Commission on Good Governance that initiated a process of trying and recovering all the ill-gotten wealth of Ferdinand Marcos. Her stay in office was not devoid of obstacles but one filled with lots of coup attempts from the opposition and sympathizers of Ferdinand Marcos. But this did not deter her from being persistent and resilient in her work for her country.

Corazon Aquino’s new Administration maintained a strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, and peace talks with communist insurgents and Muslim secessionists. Madam President (Corazon) also focused on bringing back economic health and confidence of the country. The new Philippines administration succeeded in paying off about $4 billion of the country’s outstanding debts.

Corazon Aquino apart from being an advocate of good governance was also a lifelong member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international organization of former and current female heads of state and government that helps to mobilize women world leaders to intervene or take action on issues critical to the leadership, empowerment and development of women.

Corazon who was still the President of her country in 1992 decided to decline the requests for her to seek re-election. She wanted to be a pacesetter to both citizens and politicians, against the view of Ferdinand Marcos, that the presidency is not a lifetime position.

She was still very active in the public service and very often voices her views and opinions on the pressing political issues which earned her a lot of accolades. Corazon Aquino in 1992 was cited as one of ‘100 Women Who Shaped World History’ in a reference book written by Gail Meyer Rolka.  She received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding in 1996 from the Fulbright Association. This award has also been received by Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. She was chosen by ‘Time Magazine’ as one of the 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th century.  Corazon Aquino in 2002 became the first woman to be named in the Board of Governors of the Asian Institute of Management.

Corazon Aquino was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008 and in 1st of August 2009; Mary Corazon Aquino was announced dead as a result of her ailment. Corazon Aquino’s death spurred a worldwide reaction and a lot of sympathizers attended her wake and funeral. Sequel to her great works, the Catholic Church in the Philippines felt there was a need to canonize and declare her a saint.

The United States’ former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that Corazon Aquino was “loved and admired by the world for her extraordinary courage” in leading the fight against dictatorship and tyranny. Also, Pope Benedict XVI commended her “courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her strong rejection of violence, oppression, and intolerance”

Mary Corazon Aquino was a great and amazing woman who had a terrific impact on the freedom and welfare of millions of Filipinos and the rest of the world. She achieved so much in her life and was loved and cherished by many.

By Emekpo Charles

Zhou Qunfei was born in 1970 and has established herself in the manufacturing industry after founding Lens Technology, one of the world’s major manufacturers of touchscreens. She is known as one of China’s richest self-made women.

While attending Shenzhen University where she took part-time courses, she worked for companies that were close to the university. During her studies, she earned certifications in accounting, computer operations, customs processing and even learned how to drive commercial vehicles.

Growing up, she had dreamed of becoming a fashion designer but found herself working for a small firm run by a family which specialized in making watch parts. With an earning of 180 Yuan per month, she was not satisfied with the working conditions and tendered her resignation just after three months with reasons why she could no longer continue with the firm. Impressed with her resignation letter, the factory chief offered her a promotion instead.

After some time, the factory folded and with the encouragement of her cousin, she went on to start up her own company in 1993 at the age of 22. The business started off as a family business with her brother, sister, their spouses and two cousins all working out of a three-bedroom apartment.

The new company worked towards providing customers with high-quality lenses for their watches with her looking into more advanced designs for the factory’s machinery.

Her growing company was then put on the map when in 2001 it gained a contract from Chinese electronics company, TCL Corporation to make screens for mobile phones. Now, she has started almost 11 new companies.

Business was beginning to pick up for her while she still produced watch lenses as she was approached by Motorola to design and develop glass screens for the Razr V3 mobile editions. This was during the transition in mobile phone technology from plastic to glass display screens.

Following this huge milestone, she decided to establish Lens Technology in 2003. She had chosen the name “lens” for the company so that it would easily turn up on searches when anyone was looking for where to get quality lenses.

Soon after, orders from HTC, Nokia, and Samsung started to come in and Zhou was on her way to becoming one of the outstanding game changers in touchscreen production. This feat was cemented after the company produced the touch screens for Apple’s iPhone during its entry into the market making it a dominant player in the industry. Till date, Apple watches still use lenses from Lens Technology.

Zhou Qunfei has risen to become one of the richest women in the technology sector who is still making cutting-edge advances. With her being also listed in many award listings like Forbes as #61 in 2016 Power Women, #205 in 2016 Billionaires (#9 in Hong Kong Billionaires for that year, #18 in 2015 China Rich List, and #30 in 2015 Richest in Tech. Fortune ranked her #18 on their 2016 Most Powerful Women of Asia-Pacific list, and she is a newcomer to the list. Bloomberg has ranked her as #211 out of the World’s Billionaires.

When asked what her hobby is, Zhou Qunfei has said that she considers her work to be her hobby but will sometimes make time to play ping pong and probably break a sweat while mountain climbing.

Her success story is one that has motivated a lot of migrant workers in China as she continues to leave her mark and make more strides in the world of technology.

HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi is a member of the ruling family of Sharjah and the niece to His Highness, Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammed Al-Qasimi.

She is the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates, respectively holding the positions of Minister of State for International Cooperation and Development, Minister of Foreign Trade, and Minister of Economic and Planning of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). HE Sheikha Lubna currently holds the position of Minister of State for Tolerance.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the California State University and acquired an Executive MBA from the American University of Sharjah. In March 2014, HE Sheikha Lubna received an honorary doctorate of science, from California State University, Chico; she also has an honorary doctorate in law and economics from the University of Exeter and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies respectively.

While serving as the Minister of Foreign Trade, she had received commendations with her background in IT for developing a system that slashed the cargo turnaround times at the Dubai airport and also creating the first ever business-to-business online marketplace in the Middle East.

Besides from fulfilling her roles as a Minister, HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi also sits on the Board of various organizations, offering her knowledge when needed.

As a Minister of State for Tolerance, she is working towards creating and building a platform where there is a generally accepted and diversified living condition in the United Arab Emirates.

Some of her Awards and recognition include Datamatix IT Woman of the Year 2001; Commonwealth of Kentucky Honorary title — Kentucky Colonel, 2003; Business. Com Personal Contribution Award, 200,1 among others.


Born October 09, 1951, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Luiza Helena Trajano is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Magazine Luiza; one of the largest Brazilian retailers, headquartered in the city of Franca Sao Paulo.

Trojano studied at Faculdade de Direito de Franca, where she earned a degree in Law in 1972. A businesswoman, Trojana is responsible for the growth of one of Brazil’s largest retail outlets with more than 800 stores, located in 16 states of the country and a strong e-commerce operation.

Her journey to the top was not a smooth ail as she went through several sectors, such as collection and sales, before becoming Director-Superintendent of  Magazine Luiza in 1991, since then, she has served in various leadership positions before becoming Chairman of the Board of Directors of  Magazine Luiza.

Trojana has been recognized and honoured for her achievements in business, transforming a network of stores located in Franca, São Paulo, into a network strong enough to fight with the giants of retail business. Some of the honours she has received include the first woman and the only privately held retail company to receive this award in the “SUCCESSFUL 2000” promotion; Entrepreneur Award of the year awarded by Ernst & Young in the Commerce category year 2002; Entrepreneur of the Year Magazine É Magazine 2014 and numerous others.

Magazine Luiza was also been recognized for its people management policy was recognized with several awards. For 20 years, the network has been among the best companies to work on the Great Place to Work ranking its e-commerce operation won 12 times the Diamond trophy in the Excellence in Quality Award for Electronic Commerce – B2C. The company has been listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange since May 2011.

Born in Chennai, India, to an Indian family and was raised in Indonesia and Singapore, Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives in 2016.

In 1982 and at the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Jayapal became a U.S. citizen in 2000. Before entering electoral politics she founded the Hate Free Zone (now known as OneAmerica), an advocacy group for immigrants, and campaigned for the rights of immigrants, women, and people of colour. The group successfully sued the Bush Administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Services to prevent the deportation of over 4,000 Somalis across the country.  Jayapal stepped down from her leadership position in May 2012, and in 2013 she was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

She served on the Mayoral Advisory Committee that negotiated Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and co-chaired the Mayor’s police chief search committee, which resulted in the unanimous selection of the city’s first woman police chief.

After State Senator Adam Kline announced his retirement in early 2014, Jayapal entered the race to succeed him. She was endorsed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and won more than 51% of the vote in the August 5 primary, out of a field of six candidates. She went on to defeat fellow Democrat Louis Watanabe in November 2014.

In the Washington State Senate, Jayapal was the primary sponsor of SB 5863, which directs the Washington State Department of Transportation to administer a pre-apprenticeship program targeting women and people of color; the bill passed into law in July 2015. She co-sponsored a bill to test and track thousands of police department rape kits. Over her two-year tenure in Olympia, Jayapal was rated “in the bottom 98% of legislators in the WA Senate” by FiscalNote, which analyzes the ability of legislators to advance sponsored legislation. 

In January 2016, Jayapal declared her candidacy for Congress in Washington’s 7th congressional district, after Congressman Jim McDermott announced his retirement. In April, she received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders. On August 2, 2016, Jayapal finished first in the top-two primary, alongside state representative Brady Walkinshaw, also a Democrat. She advanced to the general election in November and defeated Walkinshaw with 56 percent of the vote.

Pramila Jayapal currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district, which encompasses most of Seattle as well as outlying parts of King County. As a member of the Democratic Party, she represented the 37th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 2015 to 2017. She is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman to represent the 7th District in Congress, and the first Asian-American to represent Washington in Congress.

She is the author of Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India, published in March 2000, and currently lives in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle with her husband Steve.