Submitted by Ryan Adams
Aurora West College Preparatory Academy
On a recent fall morning, 15 Aurora West College Preparatory Academy students had the rare opportunity to interact with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a part of the John Paul Stevens lecture series at the University of Colorado Law School. Before Justice Sotomayor gave a public speech, she spoke candidly with about 200 high school students for over an hour.
“I knew this was a big deal, but I didn’t understand the importance of this event until I got here and realized how significant she [Justice Sotomayor] is in our government,” said an AWCPA senior. “And then to realize that she was just like me. That was so powerful.”
The fifteen students chosen to attend the event with Justice Sotomayor are a part of a Law and Government class that is participating in the nationwide “James Madison Legacy Project”. It is a professional development program focused on civic education and sponsored by the Center for Civic Education in California and locally by the Civic Canopy. AWCPA students were in awe with the chance to ask questions and interact with the first female Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
“When she discussed the prejudices that she faced as a Latina woman, I could immediately relate” said senior Maria Nieto.
Consensus among the students was that they were struck with her ability to overcome her humble beginnings, a life story not dissimilar to their own. The conversation with the Justice and a lunch meeting with Judge Christine Arguello, founder of the “Yes We Can” law program, which matches lawyers as mentors to minority, underprivileged students looking to attend college, has led Senior Hector Rivera to rethink his career options.
“I used to think I didn’t have a chance to attend college, but now, I not only plan to apply to college, I want to look into how I can study law. I plan to apply to Judge Arguello’s law mentorship program and see where it takes me.”