Outagamie County’s first Latina judge is keynote speaker for MLK Day event

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2022 at 9:15 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - An Outagamie County judge recently appointed by the governor as the first Latina to serve on the bench in the 8th Judicial District is the keynote speaker for an online event marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The annual event is normally held in the chapel of Lawrence University, but for a second consecutive year it’s being moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers tell us they expect a number of speakers, but the keynote address will be given by Judge Yadira Rein, who is the first person of color as well as the first Latina to serve as a judge in Outagamie County.

“As you can imagine I never in my wildest dreams envisioned myself a judge. I never dared to dream in this magnitude,” said Judge Rein.

She was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised by her grandparents in northern Mexico before eventually moving to Wisconsin, where she had to learn to speak English and embrace a new culture. Eventually she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her story is what organizers of this event say MLK Day is all about.

“Our theme for tonight is how can we share our story to empower and inspire, to inspire and empower. So that’s really looking upon our own individual stories in thinking about how we can continue to empower and inspire people,” said Brittany Bell, Lawrence’s associate dean for diversity, engagement and student leadership.

Judge Rein says the values of Dr. King are still useful today.

She said during the event, that her favorite speech is his, is one asking, what is your life’s blueprint?

“Dr. King shared you should have the following in your life’s blueprint. Number one, you need to have a deep belief in your own dignity and worth. Don’t ever let anybody make you feel like you are nobody,” Judge Rein said.

Other principles highlighted in that speech involve achieving excellence in your field of endeavor.

“Once you discover what your life’s work will be, he said, set out to do it, and do it well,” she told the audience Monday.

Finally, she said King wanted a respect for beauty, love, and justice.

“No matter what your situation, your age, he urged that we all have a responsibility to seek to make life better for everyone.”

Pre-registration was required for the event at 6 P.M.

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