[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/28/art.kagan2.gi.jpg caption="The Senate confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan begin Monday."]Washington (CNN) - The political irony for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is who she is, what she hopes to be and the path necessary to fulfilling a long-held dream.
Confirmation hearings for the 50-year-old academic and government lawyer begin Monday. Although she has never been a judge, Kagan is seeking a lifetime job on the nation's highest court.
To get there, she herself must first be judged - by 17 senators on the Judiciary Committee, who will decide whether she deserves a final floor vote.
The hearings promise to be an intense examination of her record advocating for two Democratic White Houses and her work as a teacher and administrator at top law schools.