I had the pleasure of hearing Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak at my alma mater last Tuesday. She was relatable, funny, and even walked the floor to take pictures and shake hands while answering questions. (She made her secret service agents nervous.) It was a first-year and transfer student event attended by current students, alumni, and staff of the school. I was really excited about this opportunity, and it exceeded my expectations.
I was originally bummed out because the tickets were distributed by lottery, and I received an email a few weeks later saying I wasn’t picked. In a twist of events, on Monday, I got another email stating there were tickets available and if I was still interested.
Here are some of Justice Sotomayor’s responses to predetermined student questions:
When asked about advice to an aspiring lawyer and/or judge:
“Don’t major in law. You should use college for its intended purpose, as a liberal arts education that teaches you about people and the world.”
She goes on to say,
“Spend your time growing as a person.” “Learn about the world and people.”
What other talents do you have?
After she made a joke about not being a great dancer and saying “The only thing I can draw is a cat”, she answers:
“I was born to be a lawyer and judge.”
Can women have it all?
She first tells a story about her colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Justice Ginsburg’s son was in school and became sick. The school called Justice Ginsburg to notify her. She replied, ‘You know he has a father, too?’”
Justice Sotomayor appropriately discussed the pressure women face when juggling motherhood and their careers. She goes on to talk seriously about people [both women and men] in general wanting and trying to have it all. She goes on to explain the realities of life:
“You can have it all. Just not at the same time.”
“It won’t be eternal happiness all the time, you’re going to have good times and bad times.”
“Every choice you make [good or bad] comes at a cost.”
Do you feel alienated being around people who don’t have the same humble beginnings as you?
“No, some of my best friends are rich people.”
Justice Sotomayor was a lot funnier than I expected. I guess I wasn’t thinking a Justice on the Supreme Court would have so many witty one liners.
She goes on to say,
“You can’t brush or write anyone off because of how they grew up.”
One of my personal takeaways was a simple statement she made while sharing some personal advice. She said:
“Learn how to live from moment to moment.”
Simple advice we could probably all use.