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Susan Oki Mollway, First Asian American Woman on Federal Bench: ‘Believe in Yourself’

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As a Japanese American, Judge Susan Oki Mollway never considered herself disadvantaged while growing up in the multicultural environment of Hawaii. So, she was surprised, when she was nominated to the federal bench in 1998, to learn she was the first Asian woman to serve as an Article III federal judge.
“I thought surely by the 1990s somebody must have been ahead of me,” said Mollway, who serves in Honolulu for the District of Hawaii. “But once that happened, I became conscious that I was going to be a role model for many people.”

In recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a new video profile explores Mollway’s heritage. She cites the influence of her father, a soldier in the Army’s highly decorated Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team; her mother, who stressed education; and Patsy Mink, the first Asian American woman in Congress.
Mollway has advice for young people considering a legal or judicial career: “Do not hold yourself back. Believe in yourself. Do not be so self-denigrating that you let opportunities pass you by.”
Learn more about the federal Judiciary and other heritage month resources. 
Related Topics: Judicial History

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