Sonia Sotomayor: I’ve learned very early in my life that if you compete against other people you’re going to find yourself wanting in some way. Especially because none of us are perfect, we’re human beings. We do some things well, we do other things not so well. Other people do some things well, and other things not well. But if you put yourself in competition with others you’re going to find yourself disappointed. And I figured out a sure-fire way to avoid that disappointment, which was to figure out what I needed to do, each day, to improve myself. To set my goals not against the accomplishments of other people but to set my goals against what I wanted to accomplish, how I wanted to improve.

So I spent my first two years at Princeton, again learning how to learn. How to write papers because I went in from a fairly decent high school but where writing wasn’t its emphasis. Multiple choice was and I was great at multiple choice. Short answers, I can do fabulously. Longer essays, I had very little practice with when I went to high… when I went to college. And so I had to figure out how to start writing persuasive essays. I also had to figure out how to finally master writing English because I had taken on so many of the grammatical, or grammatically-induced errors of translating from Spanish to English. So what I did was I went out and bought grammar books from first to twelfth grade, I reread them. I worked with a professor at college, who, every paper I wrote, he would circle my errors and explain what I had done.