Recalling their Princeton experiences and looking forward to new ones, more than 750 Princeton University undergraduate and graduate alumni and guests returned to campus March 30–April 1 for the alumni conference "¡Adelante Tigres! Celebrating Latino Alumni at Princeton University."
Alumni came from as far away as Uruguay, Austria, and Britain, as well as from 25 states and Puerto Rico, for a weekend of discussions, lectures, performances, tours, and social and networking events, organized by the Office of Alumni Affairs. "¡Adelante Tigres!" was the first gathering of its kind for Princeton's Latino alumni. Attendees represented undergraduate and graduate classes ranging from the Class of 1951 to the Class of 2016.
In a packed Richardson Auditorium on Saturday afternoon, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Class of 1976, said in a lively, laughter-filled conversation with her friend Margarita Rosa, Class of 1974 and a University trustee, that when she got to Princeton, "I did not know what I was doing."
Sotomayor, who also met with students in the morning, said that while Princeton at first felt very "alien" to her—a young woman of Puerto Rican heritage from public housing projects in the Bronx—she recognized the need to "get a lay of the land" before "jumping head first into the pool." She took some introductory courses to help her acclimate and gain confidence, and asked plenty of questions.
"What I learned to do at Princeton was ask questions," she said, such as 'Who's Alice in Wonderland?' when a classmate compared her to the character from a book she had never read.
"Someone once told me that ignorance is not being dumb," Sotomayor said. "And that's a lesson I think most people don't learn. Most of us confuse ignorance—not knowing something because we haven't been exposed to it—with being stupid. And because we equate the two, we don't figure out early on that the true dumbness in life is the unwillingness to admit ignorance. … We learn socially. We learn through common shared experience."