Yvonne Ruiz, class of 1977


In this interview conducted during the 2018 all-class Black Alumni Reunion, Yvonne Ruiz, Brown University class of 1977, discusses her time on campus as well as her subsequent legal career.

Ruiz begins by sharing some family background including her parent’s relocation to the United States from Puerto Rico in the 1950s and her childhood in Somerville, New Jersey. She explains that she had always known she wanted to go to college and learned about Brown from a high school classmate. She recalls attending a transitional summer program before beginning her first semester at Brown as well as her time concentrating in Spanish Culture and Literature. Ruiz also details her participation in the 1975 takeover of University Hall.

After graduating from Brown, Ruiz says she did not have any specific plans and traveled around the country before deciding to attend Boston University Law School. She emphasizes the difference between her undergraduate and graduate experiences, particularly in terms of racial integration and tension. She goes on to describe some of the work she did in Philadelphia at the district attorney’s office with child abuse and homicide cases.

Through her legal lens, Ruiz shares her opinion on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual assault allegations brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She notes that she does not remember feeling concerned with issues of sexual assault on Brown’s campus. Ruiz concludes her interview by highlighting how unique Brown is in terms of its educational requirements.


Recorded on September 21, 2018 at Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD‘94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Ruiz, Yvonne. Interview. By Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. September 21, 2018.


Yvonne Ruiz was born and raised in New Jersey. Her parents emigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico in the 1950s and she has three brothers. She attended Somerville High School and began her undergraduate career at Brown University in 1973. Ruiz graduated from Brown in 1977 with an A.B. in Spanish Culture and Literature. After taking some time to travel, she enrolled in Boston University Law School and graduated from there in 1984. Upon her graduation from law school, she worked in Philadelphia’s district attorney’s office on child abuse and homicide cases. She did that work for thirty-three years and retired as Assistant District Attorney. Ruiz now serves as Staff Attorney for the Philadelphia Bar Association.