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Sonia Sotomayor to speak on campus

| Monday, August 31, 2015

This Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be at the Leighton Concert Hall in the DeBartolo Performing Art’s Center addressing issues and questions brought up by members of the Notre Dame community. NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson and Judge Anne Claire Williams, both Notre Dame alumnae, will be moderating the interview.

sotomayer graphic colorSusan Zhu | The Observer

Sotomayor has served on the Supreme Court since 2009 and has received degrees from both Princeton and Yale Universities. Sotomayor was nominated as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.

The event is co-sponsored by the Office of the President, Notre Dame Law School and the Institute for Latino Studies. Professor Luis Fraga, the Arthur Foundation Endowed Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and professor of political science at Notre Dame, said that over the years, there has been interest in having Sotomayor visit and that her arrival is part of a lecture series for the Institute for Latino Studies.

“We found that there were other people on campus also interested in inviting her to speak … and we began to coordinate and collaborate with each other,” Fraga said. “This date fit with her schedule because the court is out of session mid-July through August and goes back into session after Labor Day.”

Professor Timothy Matovina, executive director for the Institute of Latino Studies and professor of theology, emphasized the lecture’s focus on bringing in Latino leaders from all walks of life.

“For us this is one of the [important leaders] that we’re bringing as an ongoing lecture series,” Matovina said. “We don’t just work for Latino students … we try to bring in people that inspire all students.”

Fraga said students will be given the opportunity to ask Sotomayor questions and questions posed to her will most likely be related to her life, career and vision of the country. There are three events where students will be given a chance to submit their questions; the first event is held in the law school, the second is Wednesday night’s discussion, which is open to the public, and the third event is a breakfast discussion hosted by the Institute for Latino Studies.

“It’s whatever the students are interested in,” Fraga said. “The questions that I have are questions related to her educational experiences, both growing up as a young child as well as in college and in law school … I [also] have a set of questions I’m going to pose to her regarding her understanding of leadership and how she sees herself as a leader.”

Matovina talked about how he hopes Sotomayor will inspire students from all backgrounds and ignite a conversation about vocation.

“I would hope our young people would be inspired to think big and [realize] the gifts that they have can serve the world around them [by] how their passions meet the world’s needs and how she’s done that,” Matovina said.

Fraga said he hopes Sotomayor’s interview will help students to see that leadership positions are available to those who work hard, are committed and are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be a leader.

“I expect that she will inspire our students to see themselves as major national leaders and that she will help them understand by talking about her own life path,” Fraga said.

“I also expect her to be particularly inspiring to young women of all backgrounds who see themselves as having the opportunity to contribute to organizations, to our country and to the world.”

Fraga said Sotomayor’s ability to hold such a large societal role and great influence while also remaining very human and maintaining a compassionate persona will leave a lasting impression on the Notre Dame community.

“I think we all understand how fortunate and privileged we are to be able to have her here,” Fraga said. “Notre Dame continues to solidify its position as the premier Catholic research university in the country. … Bringing speakers like Sonia Sotomayor here should be expected of a University that is fully consistent with where we want to be as a university, who we are as a university and certainly totally consistent with the accomplished students that we have here.”

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena