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First female politician,attorney to serve as solicitor general of the United States of America.
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Elena Kagan was born on April 28,1960 in New York City. Inspired by her father's work at the Manhattan law firm of Kagan& Lubic, Elena took an interest in law at an early age. Having attended Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard, and a varied career in law, in 2009 Elena became the first female to serve as solicitor general of the United States, and the fourth female elected into the Supreme Court.
"It was a very cool thing to be a smart girl, as opposed to some other, different kind. I think that made a great deal of difference to me growing up and in my life afterward."
Politician, attorney. Born April 28, 1960, in New York City to parents Gloria and Robert Kagan. Kagan grew up as the second of three children in a middle class Jewish family living on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Kagan's mother was an educator, teaching students at Hunter College Elementary School. Her father worked as a longtime partner at the Manhattan law firm of Kagan & Lubic, working with tenant associations. Inspired by her father's work, Elena took an interest in law at an early age.
Also influenced by her mother's strong beliefs in getting a good education, Kagan attended Hunter College High School, an all-girls school that she later cited as a formative experience in her life. "It was a very cool thing to be a smart girl, as opposed to some other, different kind," she says. "And I think that made a great deal of difference to me growing up and in my life afterward." Kagan graduated from the institution in 1977 and headed to Princeton University, focusing on the goal of law school.
In 1981 she graduated summa cum laude from Princeton with a bachelor's degree in history. She also earned the Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Fellow scholarship from her alma mater, which allowed her to attend Worcester College in Oxford, England. She earned an M. Phil at Worcester in 1983, moving on immediately to Harvard Law School, where she became supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude in 1986.
After school, Kagan landed a job clerking for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The next year, she began another clerking job, this time for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. During this time, she also worked for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign. After Dukakis lost his bid for the presidency, Kagan headed to the private sector to work as an associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.
After three years at Williams & Connolly, Kagan turned back to the world of education-this time as a professor. She began teaching law at the University of Chicago Law School, and by 1995 she was a tenured professor of law. Kagan left the school that same year, however, to work as Associate Counsel for President Bill Clinton. During her four years at the White House, Kagan was promoted several times: first to the position of Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and then to the role of Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Before Clinton left office, he nominated Kagan to serve on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals. Her nomination languished with the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, and Kagan returned to academia in 1999. Starting as a visiting professor at Harvard Law, Kagan quickly climbed the ladder from Professor of Law in 2001 to Dean of the Law School in 2003. During her five years as the Dean of Harvard Law, Kagan made big changes at the institution, including faculty expansion, curriculum changes, and the development of new campus facilities.
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