Kerala to Texas! Judge Surendran Pattel's inspirational rags-to-riches journey
Indian-American Surendran K Pattel officially took oath as the district court judge of Texas's Fort Bend County, United States, on Sunday. Hailing from Kerala's Kasaragod, Pattel beat Republican candidate Edward Krenek in the Texas 240th District Court judge election on November 8, 2022. Born to daily wagers, he worked through school and college to help them, making this feat a major accomplishment for Pattel.
Why does this story matter?
- Pattel struggled a lot when he was a child and quit his education temporarily. He worked as a manual laborer and at a beedi (thin cigarette) factory in his younger days.
- After pursuing law, the 51-year-old even fought cases in the Supreme Court but left India to support his wife, who got a job as a nurse at a top hospital in Houston, Texas.
Know about Pattel's early life in Kerala
Pattel told The Week that he wasn't a bright student and often struggled to secure good grades, which convinced him to leave his studies after Class 10. However, he soon realized it was the wrong move and decided to resume studying after a year-long break. He joined the EK Nayanar Memorial Government College but had to continue working at the beedi factory for money.
Graduated from college as a topper: Pattel
Pattel's professors, however, refused to let him appear for examinations due to his poor attendance, but he pleaded for one chance. "I told them that if I do not score well, I will discontinue," he recalled. "But when the results came, I became the topper. So, the next year, they were so cooperative with me. I graduated from college as a topper," he added.
Pattel's journey from daily laborer to lawyer
Pattel's next goal was to complete his LLB at Kozhikode's Government Law College Calicut, but money was an issue. He revealed that his friends helped him in his first year, but after that, he took up a housekeeper's job at a hotel to earn money. According to Pattel's website, he received his law degree in 1995 and started practicing in Kerala's Hosdurg in 1996.
Pattel and his family moved to United States
In 2007, Pattel's family got the opportunity to move to the United States after his wife was picked to work at a major American medical facility. The couple successfully received permanent residency and moved to Houston with their young daughter and a second kid on the way. In 2009, Pattel sat for the Texas bar exam and cleared it on his first attempt.
Pattel joined LLM at University of Houston Law Center
Later, Pattel applied for the LLM program at the University of Houston Law Center as he wanted a better acquaintance with US law. Upon graduating in 2011, Pattel handled cases concerning criminal defense, family law, real estate and transactional matters, and civil and commercial litigation. As per the 51-year-old, courts need to be "as accessible and compassionate as they are fair and just."