Nov 07, 2016 / E-news
By Ryan Adams, Aurora West College Preparatory, Colorado James Madison Legacy Project Participant
On Friday, September 2, fifteen students from Aurora West College Preparatory Academy had a 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 interacted with about two hundred 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] was in our government,” said Senior Alejandra Frarye. “And then to realize that she was just like me. That was so powerful.”
Aurora West College Preparatory Academy is a 6-12 school that serves a largely immigrant and refugee population in Northwest Aurora. The school is a high-poverty, Title I school that serves around 90 percent free and reduced-lunch students. The fifteen students chosen to attend are a part of a Law and Government class that is participating in the nationwide James Madison Legacy Project, a civic education professional development program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education in California and locally by the Civic Canopy. My students were in awe of 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.”