Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rosemary Barkett

Country of origin: Mexico (of Syrian decent)

Rosemary Barkett (born August 29, 1939) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to her nomination for that post, she was Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, where she was the first woman ever to serve on that court.

Barkett has had an unusual career path for a judge. One of seven children who survived into adulthood, Barkett, whose birth surname is Baracatt, was born in Mexico to parents recently immigrated from Syria, Assad and Mariam Baracatt. In January, 1946, at age six, she moved to Miami, Florida. By birth she was a Mexican citizen, speaking only Spanish until she came to Miami, making Barkett the first Hispanic judge to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, as well as the first female judge and the first Arab American judge. She became a U.S. citizen in 1958.

At 17, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph and became a nun. For almost 10 years - from 1957 to 1967, she was known as Sister St. Michael. During much of that time, from 1960 to 1968, she also taught elementary school and junior high school classes in Tampa, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Florida.

In 1967 Barkett left the convent because, in her own words, she believed there were other ways for her to serve humanity. She received her B.S. from Spring Hill College, summa cum laude, in 1967, and her J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law in 1970, where she graduated near the top of her class. Barkett worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1971 until 1979 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

To read more about Rosemary Barkett, read the rest of her story on Wikipedia.

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