Magazine

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar

CSUN students had the rare chance to meet and hear from California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar on Feb. 16 at the University Student Union. Instead of giving a traditional lecture, Cuéllar opted for a question-and-answer forum, giving approximately 70 students a unique opportunity to ask him a question. Professor Melisa Galvan of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, which was integral in bringing Cuéllar to CSUN, opened up the discussion by asking about Cuéllar’s childhood. “I grew up in Matamoros, [a town in Mexico that shares a border with Texas],” Cuéllar said. “There is a special knowledge that I acquired because I lived on the U.S.-Mexico border. I realized that the United States and Mexico have always been, and will always be, interdependent.” Cuéllar spoke about his early goal of earning a college education, which he did — graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1993. “I was very lucky to have parents who placed a strong emphasis on education,” he said. “My father was a teacher, and my mother worked at a library. My dad would ask us to send him letters when he was working in the U.S. When he wrote back, he sent back my letter with corrections in red ink. ” After law school at Yale, he worked for the U.S. Treasury Department and clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Cuéllar also has served as a law professor at Stanford and director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.