July 15th, 2009
09:35 AM ET

Latino in the Ivy League

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/15/sotomayor.college/art.sotomayor.princeton.2.jpg caption="At Princeton, Sotomayor co-founded the student group Accion Puertorriquena and spoke out about Latino issues. "]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

Sixteen years ago, after I wrote a memoir about my experience as a Latino in the Ivy League, I got a call from a retired Jewish obstetrician who saw his reflection in my words.

A book about being a Chicano at Harvard in the 1980s had stirred memories of being one of the few Jewish students at the University of Southern California in the 1930s.

Now, I feel like calling Sonia Sotomayor, although I realize that her schedule is crowded this week in light of the Senate confirmation hearings for the nominee to the Supreme Court.

I'd like Sotomayor to know that, even though she arrived at Princeton University in 1972 (the year I started kindergarten), I have a good idea what she went through in college - and, later, at Yale Law School - because many Latinos who later traveled that road experienced the same thing.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Joe Serra


    Hispanics DISCOVERED this continent and helped to build and influence this country. We've been here LITERALLY since day one.

    My Great Grandfather was a professor of languages – he spoke 5 fluently and one of my ancestors, according to my Great Grandfather, founded the State of California, (Junipero Serra). So, it is about time that our Country Recognizes Hispanics of all nationalities, past present and future, for our contributions to our great Country by appointing Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.


    Joe Serra
    Geneva, IL

    July 15, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  2. ted

    I lived in Puerto Rico for three years and never really broke through the colonial nature of thier feelings of occupation. while this judge was born in the usa, her ties have been deeply connected to PR. Even Puertoricans divide themselves into islanders and neoricans. I'm convinced that the speech about a "latina woman v. white male" was a reflection of a continuing rememberance with her immediate family of what the struggle to grow up and succeed really was. I'm impressed that she may have made a self-deprecating remark in humor that, given the struggle and the work and the "hot bench" adherence to the law and her struggling bootstraps, that EVEN a latina woman MIGHT apply the law, or any one of you attendees might apply the law, with greater understanding than might be anticipated. the first generation that also becomes successful carries the burden of the american dream, too. Given the natural personality of the attorney to fight with thougts and words, the heat will always be there.

    July 15, 2009 at 11:23 am |