The Honorable Judge Caridad F. Rigo graduated from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in political science in 1973, providing her with a community of support and guidance from SHU. She obtained her law degree in 1977.
During her time at Seton Hall, she encountered academic counselors that helped steer her into the path of law school. Most of her professors offered her constant advice, direction, and support.
Rigo attended Seton Hall during a politically charged period that she said reflected onto the Seton Hall community. She compared the campus’ atmosphere from the 1970s to today.
“The politics of the times absolutely had a chilling effect on Seton Hall,” Rigo said. “I felt it more so because I was involved with a para-military organization. The anti-Vietnam War definitely had its representatives at Seton Hall, however, to my knowledge all of the protesting was non-violent and not aggressive.”
Despite the tense atmosphere, Rigo said that Seton Hall’s overall attitude of warmth and friendliness was still evident.
Rigo remains active on campus and recently her involvement has increased after her retirement. She currently teaches a Civics and Civility class at her alma mater, Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, NJ.
Rigo said that she has remained active at Seton Hall since her graduation.
“Presently I am on the executive board of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute and have been so for the last 10 – plus years, Rigo said. “Prior to the Latino Institute, I was secretary to Seton Hall’s African American Alumni Association for about three years —some at the same time as my Latino Institute board membership,”
Her involvement allows her to make comparisons to how Seton Hall was during her time as a student and now. “When I went to Seton Hall as an undergraduate student, I felt like I was attending college in a quaint sophisticated village, because it had the savoir-faire and intellect of a big traditional university,” Rigo said. “Now, it is like a cosmopolitan small city filled with diverse students from different places, cultures and backgrounds. I love the diversity that is just around the corner from my home.”
James Marotta, a fellow Seton Hall University (’74) and Law School (’77) alum, and Rigo’s long-time friend, said, “When I attended Seton Hall University it was overwhelmingly a commuter school, whereas today it is much more dormitory based. Seton Hall Law School has only grown in influence and stature since I was a student.”
While at its core, it remains faithful to its traditions, it has adapted to the modern age.
“Seton Hall is heard and seen as a 21st century university meeting the needs of the 21st century college student,” Rigo said.
The Honorable JoAnn LaSala Candido, member of the Alabama Association for Justice (ALAJ), who has known and worked with Rigo for almost 13 years, attested to Rigo’s outstanding work ethic.
“Judge Rigo had an excellent work relationship with her colleagues and members of the bar who appeared before her,” Candido said.
She added that her intuition and compassion helped her in fairly making decisions as a judge. “Judge Rigo was always willing to share her knowledge with new judges or to help out with cases when we needed coverage,” Candido said.
Although Rigo is retired from her position on the Administrative Law bench, akin to Seton Hall, she made a lasting impression.
Rhania Kamel can be reached at email@example.com.