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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Launches Hostos Lecture Series In Grand Style

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 (Bronx, NY) - The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor wrote her memoir, My Beloved World, partly because she does not want to forget the little girl she once was before growing up and becoming the U.S. Supreme Court's first Hispanic and third female Justice.

An important part of that little girl’s story took place in the Bronx, and that’s why Justice Sotomayor was at Hostos Community College on Saturday, February 2, to talk about her New York Times Best Seller and sign copies in the Hostos Repertory Theater. This was the first of three events in the Hostos Heritage Lecture series, which will bring distinguished speakers to the campus and engage them with the college community.

Over 300 attendees were greeted by President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, who welcomed Justice Sotomayor and spoke about the college’s connection to her family. Celina Sotomayor, the Justice’s mother, graduated from the Hostos nursing program in 1973. The Justice also spoke at the college’s 39th commencement ceremony on June 4, 2010, and swore in the president at his investiture ceremony on the same day — an honor Matos Rodríguez says he will cherish always.

President Matos Rodríguez also said that having Justice Sotomayor open the Hostos Heritage Lecture was an early gift for the college’s official 45th birthday on April 22.

Justice Sotomayor told the audience how special the Bronx is to her, and how significant Hostos Community College continues to be because of its role in shaping her early development. She fondly recalled seeing her mother studying at the kitchen table as a student and the positive impact that this had on her brother and herself.

“I had to stop here when I came to the Bronx,” the Justice said of her return to Hostos. “It is a vital part of my family’s history.”

Justice Sotomayor said she hopes her story also gives people hope that they can achieve their dreams, no matter the circumstances. “I wanted to paint the picture of my life and my family in the Bronx to show all people, no matter who you are, share the most common values, family values.”

She also hopes her book paints a more realistic picture of the Bronx than the one that is created by the media. “The Bronx is full of decent, hard-working people, and I want people to see that side of it,” she said to resounding applause.

After addressing the crowd for more than an hour, Justice Sotomayor walked up and down the aisles, shaking hands as she responded to questions from the audience. The theater was filled with students, faculty, staff, and local residents, as well as some of the Justice’s former classmates from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. Traveling down from Connecticut to reunite with their old friend were Elena Coogan, Patty More, Cindy Flower, Babs Coords, Betty Jane Collins, and Nancy Lópes. Coogan said that she served as class Vice President to Sotomayor, who was class President when they were sophomores. The entire group shared a warm reunion and recalled Justice Sotomayor as a brilliant student and a very motivated person whom they all felt would achieve great things.

Kaira Pelaez, a student preparing for a career in healthcare, said she was impressed to learn that Justice Sotomayor’s mother graduated from Hostos with a degree in nursing.

“I think it was great she came back to the community, to her roots, and shared those stories,” Kaira said. “It was special she came back home.”

About Hostos Community College:
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to more than 7,000 students in 2012. The college also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu

Media Contact:
Soldanela Rivera - srlopez@hostos.cuny.edu
Rich Pietras – rpietras@hostos.cuny.edu
Phone: 718-518-6872 or 917-627-9097 or 718-518-6513

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