1948 - College Life


Finding Her Purpose

During her college years, Sandra Day O’Connor discovered her true purpose in life. She graduated from high school when she was only 16 years old. That same year, she started college at Stanford University in California. Her heart was still at the Lazy B, and she wanted to become a cattle rancher because, she says, “It was what I knew, and I loved it.” She majored in economics because it would help her run a ranch. But along the way she changed her mind, influenced by one of her professors—Harry Rathbun—who challenged students to think about the bigger meaning of life and how they could make a difference in the world. Inspired by Rathbun, O’Connor decided to become a lawyer. 

Instead of returning to the ranch when she graduated, Sandra started at Stanford Law School. She was a top student, earning a prized position on the Stanford Law Review’s Board of Editors and being inducted into the Order of the Coif, a legal honor society. She graduated third in her class of 150 students. She was 22 years old.