risen from/through the ranks

risen from/through the ranks

A self-made man or woman; those who have worked their way to the top. Originally this term described an officer who had worked his way up from the rank of private, a rare achievement. John Ruskin used it figuratively in an 1853 letter: “Mr. Beveridge . . . rose from the ranks—as Jephson did.” See also rags to riches; rank and file.
See also: rank, rise, through