Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor graduated Phi Beta Kappa, The Key Reporter, Fall 2009

We live in a politically correct age. So the media made a big deal when Sonia Sotomayor was nominated as a justice for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). She grew up in the public housing and she’s Puerto Rican. The media and politicians always love to point out whenever someone achieves some sort of prominence despite not being a white male (dead or alive) from the privileged class. In that regard, Sotomayor is an overachiever, wise Latina or not. And that’s why she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

The name Sotomayor is Spanish name composed of two Spanish words: soto and mayor. Soto means thicket, grove, or copse. And mayor means the bigger one. Adjectives generally follow nouns in Spanish. With a name like Sotomayor, you know she has Hispanic heritage.


I am the proud recipient of a Phi Beta Kappa Key!

PBK stands for Phi Beta Kappa, which is America’s oldest honor society. Some of you probably already knew that. I studied very diligently as an undergrad and I was fortunate enough to earn a PBK key when I graduated. I actually surprised myself! I was hoping that I would be inducted into the honor society, but I was actually surprised when they wrote to me to notify me that I was. Later, I felt that maybe I didn’t deserve to be a Phi Bete. I never wanted anyone to give me anything that I didn’t deserve. I always wondered about it.

Now as a Spanish lecturer at UIC, I volunteer to review academic records to see who deserves to earn a PBK key upon graduation. So I usually compare myself with PBK prospectives. I am proud to say that I usually fit right in the middle somewhere. I wasn’t a brainiac, but I wasn’t exactly a slacker, either. Most students who earn the PBK key have a GPA of 3.7 – 4.0 out of 4.0. I had a 3.71 GPA. Students must also demonstrate depth and breadth of study, risk taking, and a general love of learning. So if a student takes many honors college courses that contributes to his or her dept of breadth of studies. Doing a double major also accomplishes this. Well, I was in the honors college, and I did a double major in English (3.79) and Spanish (GPA 3.99), and I took a lot of upper lever-courses that I didn’t need just for the fun of it. I attended college later in life, so I really loved school and I tried to get as much out of it as possible. After reviewing students this year, I realize that I did deserve that PBK key!

I graduated with honors!