Supreme Court Justice speaks at summit

Sonia Sotomayor encourages students to succeed in life


Courtesy of University of Pacific

On Oct. 23, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor talked at University of the Pacific and inspired the lives of many young girls and boys in the Advancing Women’s Leadership Conference.

Coming from a Puerto Rican background, she grew up with a single parent in the Bronx. But nothing in her environment held her back from reaching her potential. Currently, she is known as the influential Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor: advocate for justice, legal scholar and Hispanic role model.

On Friday, Oct. 23, Justice Sotomayor stood on stage in front of a sold-out crowd at the University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center as the keynote speaker for the Women’s Leadership Summit. Individuals at the event included students from various high schools, college students, and business leaders. She spoke for a few minutes on stage and then visited students in the upper deck of the arena.

“I was very excited when she approached my side of the stadium,” said senior Marisol Gutierrez.
As she gave worthy advice to the young generation she said, “Look for the good in people and have a good attitude. Find your passion and surround yourself with people who say you can do it.”
As she addressed students about life and career choices she asked, “What’s the secret to achieving a dream? It’s called a liberal arts education.” She also conveyed a message to students to take risks in college and to take introductory courses you don’t know about.

“Let yourself explore. Take an art class. Take a religion class. Take an economics class.”

Amy Purdy, paralympic bronze medalist and world class snowboarder appeared to be the most inspiring and motivational speaker on stage. “Amy was the most inspirational speaker and she was still determined even with her leg deficiency,” said senior Daniel Diep. “ It starts with a hardship and gets better.”

When Purdy was 19 she contracted meningitis that made her rely on a machine with a 2 percent chance of living. But she didn’t give up. She thought the worst was over until she got her new legs. She wondered how she was going to snowboard and travel the world again. With her new legs, a new life was ahead of her. Purdy recalls herself feeling the fire and the passion when her new life started again. Seven months after her recovery, she started snowboarding again and realized that her knees and ankles wouldn’t bend with a prosthetic. To this day, she jokes that she can be taller than 5’5’’ and wear any shoe size she wants.

Connie X. Rishwain, president of UGG Australia, and alumna of both Stagg and Pacific, also spoke on stage. Growing up in Stockton to a Greek family, Rishwain was motivated by her father to find a career of her choice. “My father said you can do anything you want.” She took her father’s advice and later found interest in marketing. As president, Rishwain developed the UGG brand into a $1.5 billion lifestyle brand which she found very successful because of the many sales nationwide.
Marisol Gutierrez, said, “With UGGS, you can do whatever you want starting from a small business to making billions of dollars. It’s amazing.”
As she talked about marketing and sales she said, “Love your customers and treat your co-workers like your family.”

Overall, the event inspired many young women, leaders, and even men. “It was a very nice inspirational event,” said Diep. Being recognized in front of thousands of people conveyed significant messages to students. Do what you set your mind to, never give up despite a disability, and you can achieve great things coming from Stockton or anywhere.