Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as the Notorious RBG, is a soft-spoken, eighty-five year old woman who stands just an inch over five feet tall. She’s a widow, grandmother, and also a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Plane rides are where I catch up on the latest movies, and on my way back to campus from winter break, I started watching a documentary on this extraordinary woman. She has quite the resume: attending Cornell and Harvard Law School, topped with graduating tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School. At Harvard back in the fifties, she was among just nine women in a class with around five hundred men. She had fallen in love at Cornell and married right after, so she was working through law school and raising a family simultaneously. Her husband, Marty, she says, was the “first man I met who cared that I had a brain.” He developed cancer during her time at Harvard and overcame it, but between taking care of him and their young daughter as well as doing her own coursework, two hours of sleep was all she got from night to night. Nevertheless, she says that “meeting Marty was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ruth and Marty had quite different personalities. While Marty was extroverted, described by friends as the life of the party, Ruth characterizes her younger self as “sober” and even “recessive.” Both friends and coworkers point out her lack of participation in small talk. While she didn’t put herself out there much, she definitely poured herself into her work. One of her law partners gushed over the reports she wrote, in awe of how she thought through every word - every single word.
When sixty years ago, not one law firm in all of New York City would hire this woman, it makes me happy that she sits on the highest court in the nation today.
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like: