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Last month, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to secure the presidential nomination of a major political party. Whether you agree with her political views or not, you have to wonder: how did Hillary manage to pull off a feat that no other woman in US history ever has? Sure, society’s attitudes towards women and their abilities have changed. But why Hillary and why now?

Hillary’s journey to this milestone boils down to one key trait: persistence. Born to middle-class parents, she approached the world of politics with neither money nor a big name. She worked hard in high school to be accepted into a high-ranking college and worked hard in college to get into a premier law school.

Hillary’s dad was a blue-collar worker. She grew up attending public school and started a career in political activism from the very bottom. When she graduated from law school, she was just one of a handful of women to walk across the stage. Now, she might be the next American president—the first female president in the two hundred and forty years of the country’s existence!

We often tend to think of people with certain achievements to their name, like fancy degrees or high-ranking offices, as coming from privileged backgrounds or having unfair advantages—which, granted, they often do. But Hillary shows us that it’s possible to achieve these things through pure discipline and tenacity too.

When she was picked for the nomination, Hillary told the crowd at the convention:

“Progress is possible… I know it from my own life. More than a few times, I’ve had to pick myself up and get back in the game.”

And it’s true. Whether it’s a failed policy, a questionable decision, or the constant criticism of her blunt personality, Hillary has experienced more than her fair share of setbacks on her journey to the White House. Repeatedly, she has put the past behind her and charged forward again every time, even when the road ahead looked bleak.

“You have to keep working to make things better,” she said to the crowd, “even when the odds are long and the opposition is fierce.”

Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, you have to admit that she’s right. Everyone inevitably comes up against some roadblock in their life.  No matter how big the achievement or end goal is however,  the question to ask yourself is not if you will, but how you will respond when you get there.

Hillary has been fighting for the ideas that she believes in for decades. Granted, you may not personally agree with her but she has fought for her beliefs even when they haven’t been popular; even when they have failed and even after being ridiculed for fighting for them.

As a woman in today’s society, I’ll openly admit that I don’t push through nearly as much as I’d like to be able to claim. It may not be easy, but there will always be roadblocks in your journey to success. I’ve learned however, that if you’re someone passionate enough about your dreams and beliefs then knowing how to react in situations where these same ideals are questioned or rejected is of the utmost importance.

Hillary shows us that slogging through valleys on the journey towards your goal, is just as important (if not more important), than enjoying the peaks. The valleys—the “pick yourself up” bits—are the pieces that make you stronger. They’re not just moments to endure, they’re moments to learn from. They teach you the lessons that make you say “I’ve overcome worse,” when you reach the next obstacle in your path.

When Hillary was bullied as a child, her mother didn’t let her back into her house to hide. She told her to go back to her bully and stand up for herself. Hillary lives by her mother’s lesson, and we should, too.

Whatever Hillary’s setbacks have cost her, personally and politically, she has made up for with tenacity. And regardless of one’s political leanings and who wins the election in November, Hillary Clinton has made history. She has not only set an example for today’s young women, but has given them hope. Hope, that no matter what point we start from, with enough persistence, we can move mountains!


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