Some people talk about wanting to make the world a better place; others put their words into action. Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is a prime example of the latter.
Nikki Haley was born Nimrata Randhawa in South Carolina to Indian Sikh parents that migrated to the United States from Punjab. Haley started helping with the bookkeeping at her mother’s clothing shop at the age of 12. She graduated from preparatory school and then went on to attend Clemson University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Thereafter, Haley worked for a waste management and recycling company, before joining her family’s clothing business.
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Growing up in the rural South, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.
In 2004, Haley ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives for District 87 in Lexington County, challenging incumbent Larry Koon, the longest-serving legislator in the South Carolina Statehouse, in the Republican primary. In the primary, she forced a runoff when Koon won just 42 per cent of the vote (and she placed second with 40 per cent). In the runoff, she won 55-45 per cent. She ran unopposed in the general election and became the first Indian-American to hold office in South Carolina. She was unopposed for a second term in 2006, and in 2008 she won re-election to a third term 83-17 per cent.
In 2005, Haley was elected chair of the freshman caucus and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly — the only freshman legislator named to a whip spot at the time.
In 2009, Haley announced that she was going to run for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina. Haley captured 49 per cent of the vote in the primary forcing a runoff election which she won. Demonstrating her ability to stay focused in the midst of adversity, Haley kept her head high during the difficult election run for governor where she encountered racial slurs and unsolicited comments around her personal life. She was elected governor in 2010, defeating the democratic candidate 52 to 47 per cent. In addition to being the first female governor of South Carolina she was the first Indian-American to serve in the office and the third non-white person to have been elected as governor of a Southern state, after Virginia’s Douglas Wilder and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.
Haley was re-elected in 2014. In 2016, she gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address and received rave reviews for her emphasis on the importance of shared political responsibility and mention of her diverse racial background. Her second term was set to expire January 2019; however, Haley resigned her position in January 2017 to serve as Donald Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She was confirmed by the Senate 96–4.
Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
Haley has received numerous awards and honours for her service and she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016. A political force that’s appreciated for leading with a transparent style, Haley is also a wife and mother of two children.
On October 9, 2018, Haley tendered her resignation as the U.N. Ambassador, which President Trump accepted. With her term coming to an end at the end of this year , with a political approval rating of 63 per cent, we watch excitedly on what her next move will be.
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