Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her path to success during UAlbany talk

Gazette photo by Katherine Carroll

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave an energetic talk to students, faculty and Capital Region residents at the SEFCU Arena on the University at Albany campus as part of the school’s Speaker Series.

Justice Sotomayor reflected on her life growing up in the Bronx, and walked around the arena to shake hands with members of the audience.

Attendees received copies of Justice Sotomayor’s memoir, “My Beloved World,” and heard about her experience growing up, living with diabetes, excelling in school, working on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, being nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama, and becoming the first latina justice in U.S. history.

Justice Sotomayor attributes her hardworking attitude to her family upbringing and her diabetes diagnosis at just seven years old. Without medical advances, she was given a prognosis of only 40 years to live.

The disease “taught me the value of every minute of life I’m given,” she said. “I don’t think you need a disease to learn my lesson. We should take every moment and squeeze as much out of it as we can. We should do things that enrich us and make us grow.”

Published in 2013, Justice Sotomayor said she was inspired to write her memoir after being nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, feeling foreign in her new role, and a new city.

“I needed to find a way to hold on to Sonia… to hold on to the life and the memories that I love.”

When asked about her experience with discrimination throughout her career, and her advice to women, Justice Sotomayor told them to accept that it will happen.

“Navigate the world accepting that it’s part of your challenge. Be prepared to take action when it’s necessary,” she said. “And be prepared to turn to others to help you.”

She emphasized that discrimination may be an obstacle, but never a barrier to success.

“I hope I haven’t disappointed any of the women in the room. But, despite all that, I’m an associate justice of the Supreme Court.”

With the talk at UAlbany, Justice Sotomayor concluded her three speaking appearances in upstate New York, headlining events at Albany Law School and Sage College earlier in the week.

Gazette photo by Katherine Carroll