Between the moments you'll always remember and the ones you'd rather soon forget, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor told University of Rhode Island graduates not to underestimate the cringe-worthy ones.
"The 'ah-ha' moment is the first time you gained an insight about yourself or the world around you," she said, delivering the URI commencement speech Sunday. "The 'ah-ha' are the ones that stay with you entire life, the moment you realize things around you are not as they once seemed," Sotomayor said.
"The uh-oh memories," she said, are the memories "where you ask yourself 'What have I done now?'"
Sotomayor recalled to students her failure to prepare for a big job interview out of college and being embarrassingly stumped by an easy question.
"Confidence alone doesn't translate into preparation," she said.
"The 'uh-oh' moments are worth cherishing just as much as 'ah-ha' moments: Mistakes, failures, embarrassments and disappointments are a necessary component of growing wise," Sotomayor said.
"We can learn more from our not-so-good experiences than we can learn from our good ones."
URI President David M. Dooley previously called Sotomayor a role model for students and "a true champion for equal rights and social justice."
Sotomayor clearly learned from her early misstep: the Princeton and Yale graduate eventually went on to become the first Latina justice on the nation's highest court.