Environmental crusader Erin Brockovich launched a world famous lawsuit to save a rural California town from dangerous chemicals in their drinking water. With limited schooling and a beauty pageant winner appearance, Brockovich defied the odds and won her case. This put her on the map in the legal world and inspired a hit film in 2000.
Little know that Brockovich has the learning disorder, dyslexia. But true to her humble nature, she used her diagnosis for the greater good. Erin Brockovich is living proof that a single person can change the world, regardless of their dyslexia.
Who is Erin Brockovich?
Brockovich was born June 22, 1960 in Lawrence, Kansas. Her maiden name was Erin Pattee, and her parents worked as a journalist and an industrial engineer. While attending Lawrence High School, counselors told Brockovich that she wouldn’t make it through college due to her poor grades. Her supportive history teacher, Kathy Borseff, took note of Brockovich’s struggles and instructed other teachers to give her oral exams to prove she knew the material. This mix of negativity and support pushed her harder, and she graduated from Wades Business College with an Associates of Applied Arts degree.
Brockovich worked for Kmart as a management trainee. She grew tired of her career and began entering beauty pageants. She won Miss Pacific Coast and relocated to California. She has three children.
Erin Brockovich Takes on Pacific Gas and Electric
As Brockovich settled into her new life and job as a legal clerk in Hinkley, California, she noticed a disturbing amount of neighbors and friends suffering from cancer. She set off to uncover the truth, collecting medical records and reading legal briefs. Brockovich channeled her dyslexia into acute memorization. She learned the history of the town and set out to take action.
Although Brockovich didn’t have any legal education, she launched a case against Pacific Gas and Electric to prevent the pollution of the town’s water with the chemical, hexavalent chromium. The case made history as the largest settlement ever paid at $333 million.
Brockovich made a name for herself as a litigator and worked on several other successful cases. “Life is full of challenges whether you are learning disabled or not,” she says of her campaign. “It’s how you handle those challenges.”
Erin Brockovich: The Movie
Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh took Brockovich’s story to the big screen in 2000. ‘Erin Brockovich’ starred Julia Roberts and won several awards for its dramatic portrayal of the real life case. Brockovich had a cameo as a waitress in the film.
Questions were raised on the film’s accuracy, but the character of Brockovich rang true. She is shown as a hard working single mother, who took on impressive feats including memorizing 634 medical cases. Brockovich went on to star in the 2012 documentary, ‘Last Call at the Oasis’, on water policy in the United States.
Erin Brockovich on Dyslexia
Brockovich says “I knew I wasn’t stupid, but I had great hardships in school, since second grade.” Other children teased her for her difficulties with reading comprehension and spelling.
Her history teacher’s method of quizzing Brockovich orally helped her succeed and graduate high school. Brockovich discovered she possessed a different kind of intelligence and boosted her self-esteem, leading her on her activist mission.
Brockovich is concerned with educators typecasting children. “We have this set style in how we teach,” she says. “Students become labeled and that is very damaging.” She urges young dyslexics to never give up hope and ignore any stigma society has given them. Erin Brockovich is a shining example of success in the face of adversity.