U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took questions from Queens College students on Monday, discussing civics and a range of other subjects, including education.
According to the Bronx native, the American educational system is failing to adequately engage students about civic issues and train them to be engaged citizens.
Queens College President Felix Matos-Rodriguez moderated the discussion; students in the audience asked the questions. The justice sat on the stage during the early part of the event, then opting to walk around the audience and taking pictures with people throughout the rest of it.
"For me, I don't think schools — whether they're middle schools, high schools colleges and sometimes even law schools — are spending enough time inspiring their students … to take charge of their life and be aware of what civics is about," Sotomayor said. She added that it is crucial for people to truly grasp the relationship that laws have to their lives and warned against indifference towards the government.
"The worst thing in the world is to let life happen to you," the justice said. "That's what you do when you're not civically involved. You let things happen instead of being someone who makes things happen."
Answering one of the students' questions, Sotomayor discussed how much her own life was enriched by earning a bachelors of arts degree and the importance of earning one more generally.
"I took introductory art," she said as an example, adding that it was the only creative art course that she took in college. "Now, I can walk into a museum and I actually enjoy the experience."
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