U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will share her story at Brown on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Date February 1, 2018
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to share her story at Brown on Feb. 7

Brown President Christina Paxson will moderate an open-to-the-public conversation with Justice Sotomayor, which follows the Class of 2020’s exploration of “My Beloved World” through the University’s First Readings program.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will visit Brown University on Wednesday, Feb. 7, for an open-to-the-public conversation moderated by Brown President Christina Paxson.

Sotomayor’s visit comes 18 months after Brown’s incoming Class of 2020 students explored her journey from a Bronx housing project to her appointment as the first Hispanic and third woman on the nation’s highest court. Her “My Beloved World” memoir served as the text for the University’s First Readings program in 2016.

Paxson says Sotomayor’s visit will be particularly meaningful to those students, now sophomores at Brown, who participated in that year’s First Readings program. The program organized by the Office of the Dean of the College is an annual rite of passage for incoming students, who read a common text and explore it through programming in the first weeks of their initial semester on campus.

“Sonia Sotomayor’s success is not only testament to her resolute ambition, drive and intellect, but to the vital importance of role models, mentors and opportunities opened for historically underrepresented students,” Paxson said. “To hear her share her story in person is an ideal culmination of the Class of 2020’s First Readings experience, and it will undoubtedly inspire all of us at Brown.”

Sotomayor published “My Beloved World” in 2014, recounting with candor and intimacy her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench. In the book’s preface, she wrote that in speaking engagements since her appointment to the Supreme Court, questions and curiosity about her personal story continually surprised her.

“Underlying all these questions was a sense that my life’s story touches people because it resonates with
their own circumstances,” Sotomayor wrote. “The challenges I have faced — among them material poverty, chronic illness and being raised by a single mother — are not uncommon, but neither have they kept me from uncommon achievements.”

Sotomayor was born in the Bronx in 1954. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university’s highest academic honor. In 1979, she earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

She served as assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979 to 1984 and then litigated international commercial matters at Pavia & Harcourt, where was an associate and then partner from 1984 to 1992.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, where she served until 1998. She served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998 to 2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2009, a role she then assumed on August 8, 2009.

The Wednesday, Feb. 7 event at Brown will take place at 12 p.m. at the University’s Pizzitola Sports Center at 235 Hope St. in Providence. It is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets are available at soniasotomayor.eventbrite.com and complete details on the event location, timing, access information and limitations will be provided upon registration. A valid ticket and photo identification will be required for entry, and no backpacks, laptops or large bags will be permitted.

The event is sponsored by the Office of the President at Brown in conjunction with the Dean of the College’s First Readings program.

[Editor's Note: Members of the news media who wish to attend and cover Justice Sotomayor's visit should contact Brian E. Clark at [email protected] or (401) 863-1638 before 12 noon EST on Monday, Feb. 5.]