Friday, August 7, 2009

Celebrating Diversity, Sotomayor and the American Dream

I concur that the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States is a testament to the American Dream and a reason for celebrating the possibilities and dreams of those residing in the US both now and in the future. Her story of struggles, growing up in NYC, and being raised by a single mother who worked tirelessly to support the education of her children, plus Sotomayor's work ethic which led her to and through Princeton University and Yale University Law School and now to the Supreme Court is one we should all be celebrating. I have enjoyed reading about Sotomayor growing up as a child -- her love of Nancy Drew books, which I also devoured as a child growing up in Yonkers and now so has my daughter -- her devotion to Perry Mason episodes -- her dedication to her friends and their families -- her exercising venue of walking the Brooklyn Bridge (one of my favorite "city" walks, as well). I watched part of the confirmation hearings on television and was touched by seeing her mother in the audience as well as her brother, a medical doctor. Congratulations to Chief Justice Sotomayor, to her family, and to all of her mentors who helped to pave the way!

In this day and age, celebrating diversity matters and so does service to one's profession. I am reminded of the words of past-President of INFORMS (The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences), Dr. Mark Daskin of Northwestern University, who in one of his columns in ORMS Today emphasized volunteerism and also recognized that our professional societies can benefit from more diversity. At that time I had chaired an ad-hoc committee on diversity and our "preliminary" study noted some areas that needed improvement. Obviously, getting nomination packets to recognize females and other deserving members of the professions for various positions, awards, etc., takes time and effort but needs to be done. As a member of an awards committee recently told me at the conclusion of our deliberations: the fact that we are giving this award is a reward in itself and I fully concurred.

In celebration of diversity and great achievements, despite what seem, at times, insurmountable odds, I leave you with a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge, to honor Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor and all those who do their very best. The photo was taken during a walk I took last November while I was at the Regional Science Association's annual conference to give a plenary talk as a Fellow of that society.