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Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, presented the Mount Union Schooler Lecture in October of 1996.

The Texas-born Justice has made a hobby of redefining the role of women in the work force. Ranked third in a 102-member law-school class in 1952 -- headed by current Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist-- O'Connor had a difficult time finding employment with a law firm willing to hire a woman.

But the magna cum laude graduate of Stanford University forged ahead, landing her first job as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo County, California in the mid-1950s.

Since then, she has become a role model for Americans of both sexes and all ages. During the 1960s, O'Connor served as the assistant attorney general and a state senator in Arizona, and was also appointed the first woman to serve as State Senate majority leader in 1972.

In 1974, O'Connor won the Maricopa County Superior Court Judgeship. Then in 1979 she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, followed by her nomination to the Supreme Court in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan.