The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College’s 39th Commencement Ceremony to a standing room only crowd in the South Bronx College’s Main Theater on Friday June 4th.
“In 1970 Hostos Community College opened, and this opening opened the door to my mother’s dreams, and it opened the path to where I am today,” said Justice Sotomayor to more than 900 people, including Mayor Bloomberg, CUNY Trustees, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, NYC dignitaries, and more than 300 enthusiastic students and their families.
The Bronx-born Justice Sotomayor was accompanied by her brother Juan, and her mother Celina, a graduate of the Hostos nursing program, class of ’73.
“The uniquely supportive environment of Hostos gave my mom the chance to achieve her dreams of being a college graduate and a registered nurse, and it gave me and my brother a powerful example of the value of education and of family. My family is a testament to the contributions that community colleges make to our society,” said the Justice.
“Justice Sotomayor’s words of inspiration were moving and inspiring, not just to the graduates but to every single person in the theater,” said Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, whose investiture was held before the commencement.
During the ceremony, the Justice was given an Hostos Community College Medal of Honor, which is the highest recognition the institution confers. Also, Celina Sotomayor received an Alumni Pioneer Award, which is given to alumni who exemplify the intellectual growth and accomplishments that an Hostos education can provide.
Justice Sotomayor was appointed to the high court by President Barack Obama and began serving on August 8, 2009. She is the 111th Justice, the first Hispanic, and the third female to serve on the court.
Hostos, which is part of The City University of New York system, (CUNY), conferred degrees to more than 350 undergraduate students. The Chemical Engineering Science, Civil Engineering Science, Criminal Justice, and Mathematics programs graduated their first students.
Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York system, was founded in 1968. Located in the South Bronx, the college currently serves more than 6,000 students. In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs.
In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in the fall of 1970 to the spring 2010 enrollment of over 6,000 students. The college also serves an additional 10,000 students through its Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department. Hostos has 300 faculty members, and serves a total of 16,530 students.
About Justice Sotomayor
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 55, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Sotomator graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her law degree from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Prior to her ascension to the high court, Sotomayor served for six years as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, followed by eleven years of service as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She also worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for five years before entering private practice in 1984.
Justice Sotomayor was a lecturer at Columbia University Law School and an adjunct professor at New York University Law School until 2007.
About President Matos Rodríguez
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, 48, is a prominent scholar and educator appointed president of Hostos in July 2009. Dr. Matos Rodríguez is the former Secretary of the Department of the Family in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a cabinet-level post. He is a graduate of Yale University and earned a doctorate in history from Columbia University. Dr. Matos Rodríguez is a member of the History Department at the CUNY Graduate School and University Center and is presently on leave from his position as professor of Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College. From 2000 to 2005, he was director of Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO.) He has taught at Yale and Northeastern universities, Boston College, and Universidad Interamericana in San Juan, Puerto Rico.