To pay for his law studies, Surendran owned a hotel house. Surendran Okay Pattel, 51, who has just been sworn in as a Texas district judge, claims working as a maid and rolling beedis helped him succeed in the country. Born and raised in Kasaragod, Kerala, Surendran dropped out of school and started working to make ends meet.
“I dropped out of school after grade 10 because my family had no financial resources to continue. I threw beedis like a daily bet for a year, which changed my outlook on life,” Mr. Pattel instructed NDTV.
Surendran asked his friends in his hometown for financial help to complete his education including his law degree as he was determined to turn his life around. He also supported himself by doing a housekeeping job at a nearby resort while in college.
After completing his LLB, Mr. Pattel said, “Once I completed my LLB, the practice I got there helped me survive in the United States,adding that his trip to the US had its challenges.
“When I ran for this position in Texas, comments were made about my accent and negative campaigns were waged against me. My party didn’t think I could win when I ran for the Democratic primary,” Surendran said.
“Nobody believed I could achieve this. But here I am. I only have one message for everyone. Don’t let anyone determine your future. You should be the only one who decides,” he named.
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This American judge once rolled beedis in Kerala
Surendran K. Pattel, a Keralite who had emigrated to the United Statesrealized a lifelong wish on January 1 when he was sworn in as a judge of the 240th Judicial District Court in Fort Bend County, Texas.
In the US, district judges are elected through elections, and Pattel, 51, became the first district judge in Malayalee by beating the incumbent judge in the first round of the election.
Pattel wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so his path to the position required a lot of hard work, perseverance and a willingness to fight his way up. His parents worked as day wage labourers. For example, he had to become an exceptional “bidi roller” to make ends meet. After graduating from class 10, he took a year off but found life complicated.
— NDTV News Feed (@ndtvfeed) January 8, 2023
While working part-time, including as a day laborer, to support himself, he completed his additional education and obtained his bachelor’s degree, without interfering with his studies.
After enrolling in a Kozhikode university for an LLB program, he worked in a hotel. In 1995 he graduated with his law degree and started practicing law.
After that, he married Shubha, a nurse by profession, and moved his base to Delhi where he started as a lawyer in the Supreme Court. His wife was offered a job in the US in 2007, so he followed her there as well. Since the law was his passion, he passed the Texas bar test after working in a grocery store for a while.
He was subsequently accepted into the LL.M. program, completed it with flying colors and went to work as a lawyer. On this New Year’s Day, he wrote his name in history.
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