U.S. attorney, Suffolk Law dean praise mentors’ role

Issue June 2011 By Jennifer Rosinski

The 10 principles that U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz lives by, and the mentors that guided her, are what she credits with her successful rise to become Massachusetts' first Hispanic -- and first woman -- U.S. attorney.

"Dare to dream," Ortiz said, sharing the first of the 10 principles with participants of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Tiered Community Mentoring program at its April 28 final event at the John J. Moakley U.S. District Courthouse.

Ortiz went on to list the nine others, elaborating on how each has had an impact on her career: believe in yourself, be confident, lean on family and friends, take advantage of opportunity, have diverse job experience, forge relationships, handle disappointment with class, don't be afraid to ask for help and be positive.

"It's really important not to limit yourself and to not let others limit you," Ortiz said.

The program -- a collaboration among the MBA, Suffolk University Law School, Boston University Law School, Roxbury Community College, UMASS Boston and New Mission High School -- aims to reach urban high school students by building a diverse mentoring network. The program matches tiered groups, comprising a high school student, an undergraduate student, a law student and an attorney or judge.

The final event also included the distribution of four $500 scholarships to participating students.

"I look forward to seeing you make your way through undergraduate studies, law school and hopefully admission to the bar," MBA President Denise Squillante told the high school students in attendance. "Certainly, you will be well poised for that career track, should you decide to take it, thanks in part to this wonderful mentoring program."

Other featured speakers at the event included Norfolk Probate and Family Court First Justice Angela M. Ordoñez, whose ideas led to the creation of the mentoring program, and Suffolk University Law School Dean and Professor of Law Camille A. Nelson, who urged the students to find their own unique voice.

"Realize that you have power and you have possibility and you have potential because of all that's within you," Nelson said, who also touted the role that mentors can play in a person's success.

The event's second keynote speaker was John Gibbons, U.S. marshal for the District of Massachusetts, the first African-American to be in his position in 220 years. Gibbons, who grew up in Newark, N.J., said it was hard work, dedication and perseverance that helped him attain this title. "It all paid off, and it continues to pay off dividends now."