PCC, Multnomah County Library sponsor Justice Sotomayor’s Portland visit

Story by James G. Hill. Photos by Briana Cerezo.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes questions from the crowd.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor takes questions from the crowd during a Q & A session.

In September, Portland Community College welcomed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to its Sylvania Campus to celebrate the release of her new children’s book, “Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.

The event, co-sponsored with the Multnomah County Library, included a conversation with Justice Sotomayor that was moderated by iHeart Radio and KATU-TV lifestyle host Tra’Renee Chambers. It was followed by an audience Q&A and book signing, as well as special VIP signing for students and event partners.

“We are delighted to be able to host this event with the Multnomah County Library,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui, who introduced the Justice to a packed crowd in the gymnasium. “We have a lot of bridges here in Portland and our county libraries and our education system are examples of bridges to understanding the world around us and to a better life.”

Paralegal Program students helped bring Sotomayor to PCC.

Paralegal Program students helped bring Sotomayor to PCC.

Libraries and community colleges have played a key role in the life of Justice Sotomayor. Her mother is a graduate of a community college nursing program in the South Bronx, New York and she often writes about the impact of her local library on her life. The Justice’s assistant, Anh Le, is a PCC alumna and graduate of the college’s law assistant program. In 2012, Le was named a Diamond Alumni, which recognizes PCC’s most outstanding graduates.

“It is both fitting and fortunate that she chose to visit Portland and at a community college,” Mitsui added. “We’re so glad that she is here and is willing to share her life lessons with us tonight.”

In “Just Ask,” Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, she writes about children with all sorts of challenges–and looks at the special powers those kids have, as well. 

“Justice Sotomayor explains how being different makes us stronger in good ways,” Mitsui said. “Now, that’s a book I wish I had when I was growing up. What an important message.” 

PCC President Mark Mitsui introduces the Justice to the crowd of 1,000 in the Sylvania Campus gym.

PCC President Mark Mitsui introduces the Justice to the crowd of 1,000 in the Sylvania gym.

Izzy Romero graduated from the Paralegal Program last June and was excited to meet Justice Sotomayor. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon when she took a break to see what else was out there.

“I found out about the PCC Paralegal Program and thought it would be great for me,” Romero said. “I’m now working at a law firm in Tigard.

“I think everyone did a great job today facilitating this,” she continued about Sotomayor’s visit. “A lot of work went into this event and it was so worth it for such a beautiful and passionate Justice. It’s not every day a Supreme Court Justice comes to Portland, Oregon. So this has been very rewarding.”