‘Grateful and Honored’: 2L Fierro Interacts with Justice Sotomayor at U Event

2L Jasmine Fierro writes about her experience with Justice Sotomayor.
I had the opportunity to attend a pre-law and law student meeting with United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Spencer Fox Eccles Building on Wednesday, January 28th. Justice Sotomayor began by giving pre-law students advice including to talk to law students and lawyers or even work as an assistant at a law firm before making the decision to attend law school. She emphasized that law school is expensive and difficult and that law school is for those who are passionate about the legal profession. She then proceeded to give law students advice including to remember that law is a noble profession where treating others fairly is paramount. While she cautioned that what we learn in law school may not always be applicable in practice, she recommended taking as many foundational courses as possible to gain a broad understanding of many areas of the law.
After these introductory remarks, she began taking questions from the audience. Every time she selected a student to ask a question, she would invite them to sit next to her on stage to ask their question. I had been working up the courage to ask her a question since the reception and dinner I had attended the night before and realized this was my last chance to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. I anxiously raised my hand multiple times only to feel my stomach sink when she selected another student. I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest when I realized that she finally gestured towards me to come up and ask my question. I was so awed by her proximity and rapt attention to my words that I am unsure of the exact formulation of my question. I mentioned to her that I had read her book and was very moved and inspired by all of the obstacles she had overcome and that as a Latina in the legal field like herself, I wanted to know how she had overcome her fear and self-doubt every time she found herself in a context where she was the only woman or the only Latina and what advice she would give women or minorities in the same situation. She began by recounting the myriad of contexts where she found herself in that situation and said that the most important skill to have in these situations is the ability to observe. She highlighted the importance of seeking mentors who we can observe closely and who are willing to continually teach us new lessons. She said the most important fear to overcome is the fear of saying, “I don’t know.” She explained that there are no stupid questions, but rather, it is stupid not to ask when you have a question. She concluded by saying that we should think of ourselves like the little train that could, constantly repeating to ourselves, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and to believe it. She finished by wishing me good luck.
I am grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to meet the person who has most inspired and motivated me to continue on my path in the legal profession. She renewed my faith in the ability of lawyers and judges to help their communities and effect social change. She showed me that I can remain true to myself, my family, and my culture even as I continually enter new worlds of experience. She reaffirmed my belief in the power of hard work, kindness, and gratitude. And most importantly, she represents the fulfillment of dreams once thought impossible and is living proof that women and minorities have done and will continue to do great things.