At a packed dinner event in the U.S. Supreme Court building on Sept. 15, the Fordham University Alumni Chapter of Washington, D.C., honored Justice Sonia Sotomayor with the Brien McMahon Memorial Award for Distinguished Public Service in the Fordham tradition.
A proud Bronx native, Sotomayor said she was honored to receive an award from a university that is just miles from where she was born. In speaking to the crowd of 200, she reflected on the meaning of service as something beyond her extraordinary professional achievements, underscoring the importance of serving people, not just institutions.
Joseph M. McShane, SJ, president of Fordham, said the University community—and particularly its Latino students—see the justice’s life of service as the “fulfillment of the American Dream in an extraordinary way.”
He said that when she received an honorary degree from Fordham in May 2014, “Our Puerto Rican students, our Dominican students, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, they looked at her and saw not just her, but through her achievements they saw a future that is possible for them.”
Fordham’s D.C. alumni chapter established the Brien McMahon Memorial Award in 1962 in honor of the late U.S. senator, a 1924 Fordham alumnus, and his work to cultivate peaceful uses of atomic energy. Past recipients include former news anchor Katie Couric, Mother Teresa, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Walter Cronkite.