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Thursday, December 8, 2022

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Nandita Berry paves the way for Texas success


Nandita Berry

Former member of the UH Systems Board of Regent Nandita Berry was sworn in as Texas Secretary of State by Gov. Rick Perry on Jan. 7, 2014 | File photo courtesy of The Daily Cougar

The beginning of the new year brings many changes in everyone’s lives, whether it is something as small as remembering to write the date correctly or as big as adjusting to a new job. For Nandita Berry, this new year marks the beginning of her service as the first Indian-American to fill the state-level post of secretary of state in the entire country.

Nandita Venkateswaran Berry was born in 1968 in Hyderabad, India. She attended the Mt. Carmel College in Banglore, where she received a bachelor of arts degree. At the age of 21, Berry came to the U.S., attended the University of Houston and got a second bachelor’s degree in political science. She continued her studies until 1995, when she got her law degree from the UH Law Center. She worked at Locke Lord LLP, the prestigious full-service international law firm, when she was appointed as Texas secretary of state by Gov. Rick Perry.

“Nandita Berry personifies what is possible through hard work and dedication in the state of Texas,” Perry said. “Her work ethic, intelligence and wide array of experiences will serve her capably in her new duties as secretary of state, and I look forward to working with her to keep Texas the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.”

As Texas secretary of state, Berry will have many roles and responsibilities, including being the state’s chief election officer, liaison on border and Mexican affairs and publishing government rules and regulations. She will also keep the state seal as proof of the governor’s signature for signing official documents.

Before her appointment as Texas secretary of state, Berry was appointed to the UH System Board of Regents in 2009. The UH System is a conglomerate of universities in greater Houston that has a major role in providing higher education needs and services. The four main universities include UH, UH-Clear Lake, UH-Downtown and UH-Victoria. The Board of Regents is the governing body consisting of nine members: chair, vice chair, secretary and six others. Berry will serve the fiscal year of 2013-2014 as vice chair, and her term as a board member ends in August 2015.

Despite her accomplishments, some people are concerned about how trustworthy Berry is, basing these skeptical views on her husband, Michael Berry. The radio talk show host and former Houston city councilman is known for his rude and discriminating comments toward liberals and other people he dislikes. His controversial reputation has people like Democratic Representative Jessica Farrar voicing their concern about how Berry will act as Texas secretary of state.

“This is an office that is supposed to be totally impartial to either party,” Farrar says. “You have to reach a really high level of public trust. I think (Michael Berry’s) activities are a hindrance to that public trust.”

Michael Berry defended his wife by writing on Facebook that “anyone who doesn’t like me should know that she is her own person, and she’ll do a great job.” Despite all that he has said in the past and what his track record looks like, this comment is one thing that should be taken into consideration when watching how our new secretary of state will perform.

While it is completely unfair to judge someone’s integrity based on the actions and beliefs of their spouse, it is understandable why some people are concerned in Berry’s case. No doubt there will people who will have negative things to say for every single action she makes, but as for the rest of us, we need to keep her individual accomplishments in mind and not those of her husband. Ultimately, it will be her actions that will determine what kind of a person she is, as is the case with everyone.

Berry is a remarkable example of a person who achieved greatness through hard work and determination. She is an excellent role model for not just Indians, but all young people struggling to not give up on college because the work is overwhelming. Berry’s success shows how anyone can rise to such levels of respect and honor, no matter how humble their beginnings may be.

If there is any encouraging way to start the new year, it is with an eye on Berry’s large step forward.

 Opinion columnist Zehra Abbas is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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