A Conversation with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: 5 Things a Belle Should Know

During my second week at SMC, I had the privilege to see Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak at Notre Dame. I was beyond excited; after waiting in line for hours to get standby tickets (yes, hours) and making some acquaintances along the way, the event finally began just after 7:00 PM. As the night went on, the fiery, sassy, and spirited Supreme Court Justice sparked inspiration within each of her audience members by recalling stories of interactions between her and her colleagues, answering questions about her lofty duties, and sharing advice and lessons that she has acquired throughout her journey into the big leagues of the judicial system. Plainly stated, Sonia Sotomayor is an incredible woman and, by default, I left the auditorium full of little wisdoms that I wanted to share with my fellow Belles, wisdoms that could change your life for the better!


1. As a woman in the professional world, you will face obstacles.

Regardless of the talent you posses and the effort you put forth, there will be colleagues, peers, even bosses and managers that will try to keep you from getting ahead just because of your gender. The drive in most women to overcome these difficulties, Sonia says, is what makes us such strong and admirable people. Keep pushing your way to the top of whatever field you find yourself in and prove to the world that you are capable of greatness!

2. Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.

Being outspoken is not a crime. If someone challenges your morals or beliefs, you have the right to take a stand. Remember that everyone has an opinion, so even though you have the right to defend your own, they all do too. Whether you agree or disagree, listening to the opinions of others can be a good way to get to know a person (and yes, it is ok to have friends with different views than you)! Remember, you do you, not what someone else wants.

3. Broaden the scope of your knowledge.

Luckily, we are doing this every day at Saint Mary’s. Because SMC is a liberal arts college, we are pushed to learn about topics in fields that some of us have never even considered before. Sotomayor suggests taking a course in religious studies, which allows you to better understand the beliefs of people across the world; taking an art class, whether you think you have the knack for it or not, to help you channel your creativity in expressive and unique ways; and taking a finance class so that when you are obligated to become financially independent, you’re not feeling like a deer caught in headlights. There is no harm in being a well rounded scholar! Even if a course you take isn’t up your alley, at least you can say that you tried it out.

4. It’s okay to be confident!

Some of us may have the tendency to lack the confidence we should possess. If you know you did something well, you have the right to say so! Keep in mind that it’s easy to cross that fine line between confidence and cockiness, so know your celebrating from your boasting. All in all, you’re allowed to succeed and to let people know about it, as long as you keep yourself humble.



5. Show adversity who’s boss.

We’re all bound to face it at some point, so we might as well find a way to fight back. Being a Latina woman, Sonia Sotomayor was able to speak based on her own experiences with adversity attributed to her race and gender and told how she rose above it. Despite being at the top of her class at Princeton and being an editor of the Yale Law Journal during her years at Yale Law School, she was told that she was “not smart enough” to become a member of the Supreme Court by a male justice reviewing her nomination. At that point in her career, she had known her way around these types of criticisms and was able to prove the man making these claims wrong (which, she admits, felt very good). It’s not fair that certain groups of people face more adversity than others, but it’s empowering to rise above it, as Sonia explains. You are capable of great things; don’t let anything stop you, Belles!



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