Not many people know this…but my obsession with law school began back on August 8, 2009 (my 14th birthday!) when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor assumed office. Although my obsession with law school is long gone, she remains my idol. I remember watching the news, amazed by yet another woman (but one who looked more like me) sitting on the highest judicial bench of the country.
Fast-forward six years later and I’m sitting in President Quillen’s house about to meet my idol for a morning coffee. I was nervous…my hands were clammy and my posture was so good it was uncomfortable. Here’s what I didn’t know beforehand:
1. You need to shake “it” off first. Literally. The 12 of us there stood up and shook off the nerves in something only equivalent to Taylor Swift’s awkward dancing.
2. Federal agents are more intimidating in person. They don’t play around. Nor should they. But their presence made me paranoid as I walked over to the president’s house that they were spying on me from the bushes.
3. She likes jeans. I didn’t expect the first words out of her mouth to be “You guys are dressed too formally” with a laugh. She recalled her college days of only wearing T-shirts and jeans. Sure, I’m not a fan of dress pants and heels but she certainly deserves more than my faded (free) Davidson T-shirts.
4. Shaking her hand makes you want to squeal like a fan girl. She likes shaking hands and asking your name and where you’re from. And I was so nervous I’m pretty sure I stuttered when I said my name.
5. She’s actually hilarious. I can’t describe her humor…but all of those who attended her talk in Baker Sports Complex on March 12th got a glimpse of it.
6. Independence! She cracked a joke about letting us walk with her to her next meeting just because it would put the US Marshalls on edge. That tells me she likes doing things on her own and in her way (but I’m sure she doesn’t get much of a chance anymore). I laughed and secretly hope she’d do it. But she didn’t. And we parted ways…but not before a picture was taken.
I do not foresee being in such an intimate setting with her anytime soon. So for now, I guess I just stare at the photo we took with her and remember the morning I met the woman who made history for the generations to come. She’s the first Latina on the Supreme Court and though my 14 year old self would have loved to be the first, I’m glad it was her. She talked to me a bit about what that’s like: being not only a woman but specifically a woman of color in a world not intended for her. It was humbling to hear that she’s helped paved the way for women like me (in some ways more than others). And even better to hear her not forget the Puerto Rican roots of her childhood or the Spanish words she threw in every now and then during our conversation.