Sonia Sotomayor was just nominated by Barack Obama for appointment to the Supreme Court. And though I can’t say I have read all of her legal decisions (or any of them, actually) I am already a fan.
Why? Because regardless of your political bent, she appears well-qualified.
And how did she get well-qualified? By becoming well-educated.
Born in the Bronx, lived in a public housing project, earned her way into Princeton. Graduated summa cum laude.
Went to Yale Law School. Became editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Been an assistant district attorney. Worked in a private law firm. Became a judge. Supported by President Bush (#1). Given a promotion by President Clinton. Confirmed by Senate vote in 1998.
I tell my students all the time that I really do not care what they aspire to be. Plumber, Mechanic, Surgeon, Computer Engineer, whatever. Yet, what I do tell them is that what ultimately will determine their success, I believe, is their ultimate ability to do a job supremely well. Not kinda good. Not fairly decently. Supremely well. Do that, and they will beat a path to your door, almost regardless of your chosen industry. However, render yourself unable to do that and you are facing serious impediments to scaling the highest of heights.
That’s the classroom lesson I am going to bring when I copy an article about Sotomayor this week so that I can introduce her to my students.
Is it important that she is Hispanic? You betchya. (Especially considering the demographics of my school — my kids are really gonna love that.) Is it important that she’s a woman? Well, she won’t be the first but it’s still refreshing to see. But is it race or gender which brought Sotomayor this nomination?
Of course not. And that’s why I am so high on this pick. It’s the proverbial teachable moment. And goodness do I love those.