Hispanic Heritage Month dates back to 1968 and spans from September 15th to October 15th. September 15th is also the Independence Days of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. During this time period, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence as well.
In honor of this monthly celebration, we would like to highlight an influential person in the Hispanic community, Sonia Sotomayor.
Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court. She is the first Hispanic justice, the Court’s 11th justice, and its third female justice. Born in The Bronx, New York, Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican decent, and was raised by her mother and father, until her father’s death when she was nine years old. She attended school in Soundview, where she was valedictorian and had nearly perfect attendance. Sotomayor gives credit to her mother for her constant stressing on the value of education.
Sotomayor then obtained her undergraduate degree at Princeton University with a full scholarship in 1976; she then attended Yale Law School and received her juris doctor in 1979. During her time in school, Sonia was an advocate for hiring Latino faculty members. She later worked as an assistant district attorney in New York for almost 5 years before entering private practice in 1984.
In 1991, Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by George H.W. Bush, and became the youngest judge in the Southern District and first Hispanic federal judge in New York State. She was later nominated by Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In addition to her work, she also taught at New York University School of Law and Columbia Law School.
In May, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court to replace David Souter, who was retiring. Her nomination was confirmed in August of 2009 with a vote of 68 to 31. In January 2013, the Sotomayor administered the oath to Vice President Joe Biden during the inauguration of his second term, making her the first Hispanic and fourth woman to administer the oath to a President or Vice President.
Sonia Sotomayor is an inspirational woman to many. Coming from a small Puerto Rican community in the Bronx with two parents who had very little education, to becoming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice is a big accomplishment for anyone, but it didn’t come without hard work. Sonia Sotomayor will continue being an inspiration to not only Hispanic men and women, but everyone seeking careers in the legal field for years to come.
For more information about Sonia Sotomayor, read her biography, My Beloved World.