CLARKSBURG — No one ever said it would be easy. And for many women, the belief is to get to the top of your field, the road may be paved with more obstacles than opportunities.

But that doesn’t derail the very best and brightest, as the Mountain State has many shining examples of those who have persevered to achieve great things in their respective fields.

Those who have chosen the public sector path, as elected officials or educational or legal officials, may have faced even more challenges than some.

But because of their contact with the public on a daily basis, their reach — their ability to inspire and motivate others — may be even greater.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, said thinking back on it, her parents were her biggest inspirations to get her to where she is today.

“My dad was a longtime public servant, former governor and congressman. Public service can make such a great impact,” she said. “My mother was an extremely loyal and competitive person. She inspired me to be myself and not be afraid to take up new challenges.”

Learning how to balance her home and professional lives was difficult for Capito. After being a very active, stay-at-home mom, working away from home was a big hurdle.

“My family was very understanding and I included them in the process. One hurdle was when I first ran, I was a political underdog,” she said. “It made me work harder.”

Capito became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from West Virginia. Still, she said while some of her biggest successes may seem small to some, they’re the ones that truly matter.

“I’ve helped a family adopt a child from another country, recovered Purple Heart medals for WWII vets, appointed some of the best and brightest people to the military academies,” she said. “These are just some successes that have had big impacts but aren’t necessarily as big as legislative successes.”

Capito said she took a clue from her mother when it comes to being in the public eye.

“I just be myself. As a woman, I think I can project and be an empathetic, strong voice for all things, whether it’s family, military, agriculture, or education,” she said. “You present yourself in a knowledgeable, confident manner and you can go far.”

A sense of humor has been a major key in her life, especially with her job.

“I laugh with people and at myself at the same time. I keep my perspective though and that’s to treat everybody with respect, whether it’s someone powerful and well known or somebody unknown,” Capito said.

Capito has a passion for seeing young women rise up and aim to be in leadership positions, so she created a program called “Girls Rise Up.” The program is to instill confidence and leadership in young women.

“I get to go into fifth-grade classrooms to talk to the girls about future leadership, confidence, education, and get them excited,” she said. “I want to get them thinking. You can inspire young people by demystifying the process.”

After seeing the legacy her father left behind and the impact he had on the citizens, she wanted to follow in his foot steps.

“Being the first woman senator, I hope my impact would be inspiring a generation of West Virginia girls to aspire to do big things,” she said. “I want to leave a legacy for young West Virginia girls to be leaders in our state.”