April 16, 2013 | Student EventOn Tuesday, April 9, members of the New Community College’s Ethnographies of Work II class visited New York State Supreme Court to meet with Justice Eduardo Padró. Accompanied by José Luis Morín, NCC’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who helped organize the trip, the 14 NCC students had a unique opportunity to experience the legal world firsthand and to learn more about the career trajectory of one of New York’s preeminent judges.
The NCC students sat in Justice Padró’s courtroom to observe two juvenile proceedings. Between these sessions he discussed his experiences growing up in east Harlem with immigrant parents from Puerto Rico, attending The Dalton School, one of Manhattan’s leading private schools, as a scholarship student and the challenges of straddling two different cultures and economic realms. The judge noted how supportive teachers and high standards and expectations helped him become a better student. His academic success continued when he attended Yale University and New York University Law School; at both institutions he became involved in social activism to make a difference for underrepresented students and to pursue social justice.
Justice Padró was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in November 2001. He is currently assigned to two specialized parts: the Juvenile Offender and Manhattan Drug Diversion Courts. Justice Padró utilizes a problem-solving approach to assist juveniles and those with drug issues through special programs. He notes that getting to the root causes of people’s problems can often stop the criminal behavior. The judge has a similar background to many who come to his courtroom. He understands the realities of street life, drugs and alcohol but has also experienced a more privileged world with support systems and believes he can make a difference as a judge.
In discussing how to achieve career success, Justice Padró recommended NCC students follow their passion and explore their interests by becoming interns, volunteering and always engaging people they encounter. He also emphasized the importance of getting college and advanced degrees in their chosen fields to be in the best possible position. “People are happiest when they find meaning in their lives,” he concluded.
Ethnographies of Work II is the second course of a two-course sequence that uses social science concepts, perspectives, and methods to increase student understanding of the work world and the processes and contexts that link the self and work. The class looks at careers and provides students with an understanding of how different types of work impact the daily life of New Yorkers. The course encourages students to consider how their skills, passions, and interests will contribute to New York’s economic sustainability. During the second semester students conduct an ethnographic investigation on an occupation of interest and participate in fieldwork at a work site. Throughout the semester, students add more in-depth writings to their body of ethnographic works and continue to reflect on their own journey toward deciding on a career path.
The visit with Justice Padró at the State Supreme Court exposed students to civic structure and judicial practice. The visit also further contextualized the excerpts students had read from Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World, the interview the students conducted with Provost Morín, formerly a human rights attorney, and Thomas L. Friedman’s recent article in The New York Times, “Need a Job? Invent it.”
“Our conversation with Justice Padró allowed students to see first-hand the types of negotiations involved in legal proceedings. The Juvenile Offender and Drug Diversion program provides real ways to address complex civic problems. The discussion also illustrated how careers are possible in which personal interests and passions can intersect with larger civic duties and responsibilities. Justice Padró has found ways to innovate within these two programs and that has made all the difference in the lives of the many young people he has affected,” commented Assistant Professor Nicola Blake.
About The New Community College at CUNY
The New Community College at CUNY is an urban public institution located in midtown Manhattan that offers associate degree programs in an environment that nurtures student success. Our goal is to increase the graduation rate for our students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. The NCC connects field experiences with classroom learning in a structured and supportive environment. All students begin in the Summer Bridge Program and engage full-time in a city-centered first-year experience before starting their major coursework in one of six degree programs. Instructional teams comprising faculty members, student success advocates, graduate coordinators, peer mentors and library staff create a rich classroom environment complemented by an integrated advisement program to help students stay on the path to graduation. To learn more about The New Community College at CUNY, visit www.ncc.cuny.edu.