Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Beloved World

A few months back I saw Justice Sonia Sotomayor on The Daily Show of all places, talking about her new book. I was intrigued, so I added it to my reserve list at the library and waited patiently.

It finally came in and I have to say, I'm really glad I reserved it.

I don't know much about the Supreme Court Justices, or their back stories. I can name them all, I think. (Now I have to try: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Kagen, Sotomayor, Kennedy, Ginsberg... Breyer...and... Alito. Ok, so I forgot Alito and Google saved me. But recall of 8 out of 9 isn't bad.)

So, I don't know much about the others, and I imagine they are all pretty impressive, but after having read My Beloved World I know for sure that Justice Sotomayor is.

She grew up in public housing in the Bronx, the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants. She had the support of her mother for sure, but it was self motivation that really drove her to succeed. And her naivete allowed her to pursue things she otherwise wouldn't have had the confidence to pursue. Like the Ivy League. Though, that same naivete almost let her miss out on great opportunities - like when she threw away a letter inviting her to join a club that you had to pay to join, and then pay more money to get a trinket with the initials on it. What she thought was a scam, a friend pointed out was actually quite a prestigious honor. The "club" was Phi Beta Kappa.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the book, and it was filled with a lot of interesting messages, but the one passage that really struck me was the following:

When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become - whether lawyer, scientist, artist or leader in any realm - her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration, his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying "Yes, someone like me can do this."
Sotomayor has achieved so much, and her story is really inspiring. She comes across as really down to earth, at the same time aware of just how much she has achieved. And she continually thanks and credits those in her life that got her there, the role models she had, all while chronicling her pretty amazing story that makes her a role model for so many others.

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