The inspirational story of Surendran K Patel

by Subhechcha Ganguly

An Indian-origin lawyer in Texas named Surendran K Pattel has had a remarkable journey from his humble upbringing in Kerala to his current position as a judge. According to The Week magazine, the 51-year-old was sworn in as the 240th Judicial District Court judge in Texas’ Fort Bend County on January 1. He worked his way through college and became a US judge while working as a beedi factory worker to support his impoverished family.

In Kasaragod, Kerala, a state in southern India, Pattel was conceived by daily gamblers. Because his family was struggling financially, he had to work during his free time to support his parents. He used to roll beedis, which are tiny, inexpensive cigarettes made from raw tobacco. After finishing Class X, he left school to work full-time as a beedi worker, but he returned to school a year later. In order to fight poverty, he also worked as a labourer in many cities and states.He was able to continue working and miss courses despite enrolling in the EK Nayanar Memorial Government College.

His lack of attendance jeopardised his chances of passing his exams, so he pleaded with the teachers, saying, “I warned them that I would stop taking the test if I didn’t do well. But when the results were announced, I took first place. They therefore worked with me so well the following year. I received top honours when I left college.” Pattel then sought to enrol in the Calicut Government Law College’s LL.B programme, but money was an issue. In his first year, he said that his buddies supported him. He then started working as a housekeeper in a hotel. He graduated from law school in 1995, and in 1996, he began practising in Hosdurg, Kerala.

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