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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: The legacy of Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina and third woman to serve on the nation's highest court.

INDIANAPOLIS — When Sonia Sotomayor was a young girl, the South Bronx complex she grew up in was called Bronxdale Houses.

At the time, those houses were a mark of affirmation that an American Dream had been obtained for New York's thriving immigrant class. 

It was a solid foundation on which Sotomayor could establish roots. Today, those 28 buildings are called Sotomayor Houses in honor of the first Latina to hold a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court and self-proclaimed "Nuyorican" who worked always credited the community she grew up in for her success. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was raised in a close Puerto Rican family, which was hit with tragedy after the death of her father when she was just 9 years old. 

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
This undated handout photo provided by the White House shows Sonia Sotomayor with her sister Miriam and cousins. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice David Souter. (AP Photo/White House)

The young Sotomayor delved into a high quality education provided by her mother, Cecelia, and eventually graduated as valedictorian of her high school class. 

She received a bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1976 and graduated summa cum laude, then went onto Yale to obtain her J.D. 

By the late 1970s, Sotomayor was serving as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office. She then litigated international commercial at Pavia & Harcourt, and eventually worked her way up to partner. 

RELATED: Kamala Harris to be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor at inauguration

President George President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and she served in that role from 1992 until1998. 

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2019 file photo, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaks at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, Miss. U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in New Jersey says the lawyer who killed her son and seriously wounded her husband also had been tracking Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Salas told CBS News' “60 Minutes” FBI agents discovered the information in a locker belonging to the lawyer, Roy Den Hollander. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

President Barack Obama nominated her as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed the role Aug. 8, 2009.

In addition to her work in court, Sotomayor continued to foster a lifelong passion for literature, eventually writing several books herself. 

Her new book out, called "Just Help," will be released in January. 

Credit: AP
La carátula distribuida por la editorial Penguin Young Readers muestra "Just Help!", de la jueza de la Corte Suprema Sonia Sotomayor. (Penguin Young Readers via AP)

RELATED: Hispanic Hoosiers find home in central Indiana

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