The World as One   
The United,   
The Shared,   
and for the Better...
By Cindy S. Cho   
CommApp ID: 15975283
Bellevue Senior High School, Bellevue, WA
cindysuecho@gmail.com
My Role Models
Richard "Dick" Durbin:

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has inspired me due to his largely unrecognized acts of political courage for Muslim civil rights. In 2011, he decided to hold congressional hearings on "Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims" with the motivations of upholding the American value of religious tolerance. During a time of rising anti-Muslim hostility in the U.S., he had little to gain and much to lose in empathizing with Muslim Americans. Although only the corrupt actions of politicians often surface in the headlines, learning about Durbin's actions inspired me to become a person of influence whose morals don't get compromised. In a country where politics is sometimes self-serving, Senator Durbin justly used his position to highlight civil rights violations instead of turning away of these issues even if ignoring them would've been politically expedient. Courageous actions by politicians often go unlooked and there are many more like Durbin both in our country and in the rest of the world.

Michelle Bachelet:

Although Michelle Bachelet is most renowned for her role as the first female president of Chile, I admire her most for the role she played in the UN. After leaving her first presidency in 2010, she was appointed as the first Under-Secretary-General for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in the UN. As a long-time defender of women's rights, she coordinated work on gender equality and the empowerment of women on a global scale. In the three years that she held this position, she audaciously advocated for women's rights and raised global awareness on women's participation in global affairs. Even as the Minister of Defense in the Chilean Government, she introduced gender policies in order to better the conditions of women in the military and police forces. Frequently, I would hear about the UN's history of violations against women, but Bachelet's reforms helped set a new legacy and attitude for the UN. Her previous experiences of hardship and exile under former president Pinochet's rule positively shaped her to be a social activist and a worker in public service. Like Bachelet, I hope to let my personal motivations and experiences impact that area that I work in so that I don't lose my drive and purpose.

Aung San Suu Kyi:

Another incredible, influential figure in my life is activist Aung San Suu Kyi. As a state counsellor of Myanmar and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, it is without a doubt that she has brought about change in the world. But when learning about Suu Kyi, I took note and learned the most from what motivated her to begin a long journey of activism. She was born in Myanmar and after years of living and studying abroad, she returned home to pervasive murdering of protesters speaking out against dictator U Ne Win. Her subsequent rallying against this dictator led her to live nearly two decades in custody. Through championing democracy and human rights, Suu Kyi was condemned with government punishment. Just in 2010 she was released from house arrest and soon was able to have a seat in parliament for the National League for Democracy party, then she went on to be named the state counsellor.

Suu Kyi has also taught me that it is not difficult incorporate activism in my daily life or in a future occupation that I might have. Before learning about her story, I believed that social activism and work were two very separate entities - I would spend time doing one then allot time for the other. But Suu Kyi's activist endeavors are what actually led her to her government position and to this day, she allows her principles regarding human equity drive the decisions she makes in her job.

  Senate Chairman Dick Durbin at a hearing on the civil rights of
  American Muslims raising a Catholic prayer book owned by
  his grandmother when she first came to the U.S.