On August 30, 34th Attorney General of the State of California Rob Bonta joined our current law students, guests, faculty, and staff in Charney Hall in a discussion centered around the bright and indefinite possibilities for the future of law and for First-Generation students seeking a career in public service. Professor David Ball, a long-time friend and colleague, kindly introduced Attorney General Bonta, sharing the inspirational story of him becoming the first Filipino American to be sworn into California’s high court system.
Attorney General Bonta was born in Quezon City, Philippines, before immigrating with his family to California. He mentioned some of the hardships his family endured, including the tough decision to leave their homeland and completely restart their lives. Noting the stressful political climate of the time, ultimately his parents had to ask themselves: “Can our son grow up here and have everything we want for him?” Their hesitation in answering this question inspired them to take a leap of faith and pursue a new life journey.
After settling in Sacramento, Bonta and his parents began to immerse themselves in like-minded communities—groups of individuals driven to make significant social change and improve the lives of everyday people. Attorney General Bonta always had a dream of being the first in his family to go to law school and representing those who historically have been overlooked by our court systems. He found himself motivated to join those who were speaking out and assist in trying to solve problems rather than amplify them. Whether he was advocating for Criminal Justice Reform to overturn wrongful convictions or narrowing in on the necessity for preventative gun violence policy, his top priority has always been ensuring all voices are heard and no one is turned away.
Today, Attorney General Bonta works at the intersection of law, policy, and politics, serving as the 34th Attorney General for the State of California. Although he notes he never saw this role as a possibility, he couldn’t be more honored to represent a fair and just future for our state. Attorney General Bonta answered questions from the gathered students, bestowing his wisdom on those in attendance. Leaving the students with a final message of encouragement and cooperation, he stated: “Anywhere you go, you can always make a difference. Your first job won’t be your last, so think about the we and us, not the I and me.”