Justice Sotomayor Engages Crowd at Huntsman Center

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(Photo by Chris Samuels)

By Mary Royal

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(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

 

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was introduced as “a testament to human possibility” when she took the stage at the Huntsman Center.

Welcomed with a standing ovation in the packed Huntsman auditorium, Sotomayor didn’t stay on the stage for long, preferring to step down and interact with the audience. Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham was present and remained on stage to pose questions to Sotomayor as she made her way around the room.

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Sotomayor answered questions about her life and her recent autobiography, “My Beloved World.” She offered words of encouragement and suggestions for students navigating through college.

“Enjoy your education. Students find themselves in such a rush for grades. What I have learned through time is that the real value is not in grades themselves, but what you take inside of you to grow,” Sotomayor said.

Sotomayor encouraged individuals to find their passion in life and to be motivated to achieve the impossible. She said early in her life she knew her passion was law and it was there she found she could help others and perform a service for those in need of direction.

The justice also spoke about not judging others based on appearances and stereotypes by realizing each person is uniquely formed from the experiences they have lived.

“We are all the products of our experiences, some good, some bad, that affect the way we see the world,” Sotomayor said. “However, we must learn to get past our own inner voice and listen to the voice of others.”

At one point, Sotomayor specifically addressed the middle school and high school students — some who had come from as far as Malad, Idaho for the event. She entered the audience and sat among the different sets of students within the crowd to answer questions.

Justice Sotomayor made the decision to dismiss the audience but allow young students to stay for photo opportunities. In her conclusion, Sotomayor said her parting words would be the most important lesson for students at the U.

“Life is hard,” Sotomayor said. “If you spend your time worrying about the struggles you face, you’ll never live your life. There is beauty in every human being. Each one of you have people in your life that care about you. They love you. Look at the good you have in your life, and don’t focus on the bad. You will find that if you do this, your life will be much more enjoyable. Your worlds can be beloved too.”

Patrick McShane, program manager for Project MUSE, said they reached out to Sotomayor last February. To raise awareness of the event, 150 copies of Sotomayor’s autobiography were handed out to students on campus.

McShane was impressed by the overwhelming turnout of over 6,500 individuals who attended the event on Wednesday.

“Our hope is that students will be able to take the words and wisdom Justice Sotomayor expressed today and apply it to their own life experiences,” McShane said. “There is a world to learn and explore from, and education goes far beyond the classroom.”

Sotomayor was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 2009 by President Barack Obama. The 111th Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Her book, “My Beloved World,” was released in 2013 and chronicled her struggles growing up with diabetes, losing her father and navigating law school before following her legal career up to when she was appointed to the Supreme Court.

“The young people are the inspiration for me to continue the hard work that I do,” Sotomayor said. “They are the future and they are worth fighting for.”

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