April 26, 2019 | 62° F

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to visit Rutgers in April

While most celebrate anniversaries with a card and flowers, the Eagleton Institute of Politics is honoring its 60-year anniversary in a less conventional way: by inviting a renowned name in politics to visit the University.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor is set to speak on campus on April 11 as a part of Eagleton’s "Make It Better"-themed anniversary line-up. The theme is a call to action for the community to better understand how the U.S. political system works, how it changes and how to “Make It Better.”

“We are thrilled that U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will visit Eagleton during our 60th anniversary year as we invite the Rutgers community to join us in exploring our political system and asking how we can Make It Better,” said Ruth Mandel, director of the Eageton Institute of Politics, in an email.

Sotomayor is slated to speak as part of the Louis J. Gambaccini Civic Engagement Series, named after Transit Executive Gambaccini who is best known for his role in creating New Jersey Transit, the nation's first statewide public transit agency.

In 2009, Sotomayor became the first Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic heritage and third woman appointed to the court after being nominated by President Barack Obama. During her time on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has made heated dissents on the topics of race and ethnic identity.

Sotomayor was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican-born parents and was raised by her mother following the passing of her father when she was 9 years old. In 1976, Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University, just 20 miles away from Rutgers University. She received her law degree from Yale University three years later, where she actively advocated the hiring of Latino faculty members.

“'My Beloved World,' Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, is a joy to read and should be on every undergraduate's personal list. The book tells the inspiring story of how family and friends, the love of learning and the capacity to work hard let her thrive and overcome very difficult odds,” Mandel said.

Registration for the event will open to students in 2016, said Randi Chmielewski, manager of Outreach and Special Projects at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. The Institute will be sharing the registration link via its social media accounts as the date approaches.

Justice Sotomayor's visit is part of an even larger lecture series kicking off in September in honor of not only Eagleton Institute's 60th anniversary, but also of the 45th anniversary of the Center for American Woman and Politics and Women (CAWP) and Center for Public Interest Polling.

Along with Sotomayor, the list of distinguished speakers set to visit the school are Senator George Mitchell, Washington Post reporter Dave Russakoff and New York Times National Correspondent Kate Zernike.

Sean McJunkcins, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said hearing powerful figures speak at the University in person will allow students to see the human side of politicians that is often overlooked.

"I'm excited to hear what she thinks of the climate of Rutgers, and of (New Jersey) and the country," he said.

The institute is also launching the Eagleton Science and Politics Workshop this year, which will feature three sessions providing aspiring social scientists a chance to discover careers in research, government, government relations and the non-profit sector.

“The Eagleton Science and Politics Workshop highlights the need for significant improvement in communication between scientists and non-scientists, and more specifically, expanding the pool of scientifically trained graduates interested in public service careers,” Mandel said in a press release.

Avalon Zoppo

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