President Jeremy Travis today presented the Hon. Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York with the first John Jay Medal for Justice. In presenting her with the medal, President Travis said: “This is an historic day for John Jay College. Our College is named after John Jay, one of the nation’s founding fathers. And as Chief Judge, she occupies the seat that he first held. Therefore, it is only fitting that she be the first recipient of the College’s first John Jay Medal for Justice, which recognizes her creativity and energetic leadership in the cause of justice. Judge Kaye embodies the spirit of justice in New York State and this country.”
The presentation was held in conjunction with the College’s Second Annual Law Day sponsored by the Pre-Law Institute. This year’s program included workshops and panels on the law school application process, financial aid options and preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Students learned about life as a law school student from a distinguished panel of John Jay alumni who are practicing law. In addition, students were given the opportunity to hear from Judge Kaye and the Hon. Judge Wilma Guzman, a Bronx Supreme Court Justice and John Jay alumna.
At the event, Judge Kaye delivered the first Samuel and Anna Jacobs Foundation Lecture on the Law and the Legal Profession. In her remarks to the more than 250 students in attendance, she said “Believe in yourself, have the confidence to pursue your dreams…. Go for it. However difficult your path may seem the only obstacles are the ones you create….no calling offers so many opportunities to contribute to policy-making change the world or change one person at a time. “
Judge Kaye also noted that when she first entered the legal profession that there was a separate ladies' entrance and a separate lunch club for women. Challenges still exist in promoting diversity in the system. She continued that John Jay the man and John Jay the College are both committed to justice. John Jay College carries forth its namesake John Jay’s tradition of commitment to the public good and advancement of our collective knowledge in the rule of law. Judge Kaye in closing said: “The College has become a great local, state and global leader and Jeremy Travis is a cool, dynamic president who has managed to do it all – intersect research and practice.”
Judge Guzman was the Alumni Honoree at the event. In her remarks, Judge Guzman noted that when she started, there were 50 men to each woman at John Jay College. She urged the students to “…work in the trenches, know everything there is to know.” With great emotion, she said: “The American Dream happens every year at John Jay.”
About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/.