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Sotomayor Returns to New York for Housing Project Naming and Commencement Speech

Friday, June 04, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor returned to the public housing project in the Bronx where she grew up for a rededication ceremony. The Bronxdale Houses, will now be named the Justice Sonia Sotamayor Houses.

Sotomayor's family was there, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former District Attorney Robert Morganthau, who gave Sotomayor one of her first jobs 30 years ago. Fighting back tears, Sotomayor, the nation's first Hispanic-American Supreme Court Justice, says she still feels connected to the projects where she grew up.

"Every single time I drive by that building, I imagine my dad watching me from that window as I go by," Sotomayor says.


Sotomayor with Cardinal Spellman High School students.

Photo by Michael Drury

A choir from Cardinal Spellman High School, where she attended, sang "Let it Be." One of the singers, Rachelle Smith says she's proud to share Sotomayor's alma mater.

"She came from our school and graduated from our school and hopefully some time in life I'll grow up to do something as big as what she's doing," Smith says.

Sotomayor spoke at the Hostos Community College commencement ceremony in the Bronx on Friday. Sotomayor was born and raised in the Bronx, and her mother graduated from the Hostos Community College nursing program in 1973.

Nursing student Kerri-Ann McHayle-Henry, 24, says that she and her classmates are thrilled that Sotomayer and her mother will be in the audience when they graduate.

"Many of us have huge dreams for ourselves, for our families," said McHayle-Henry. "And seeing someone who's been down the path that we're traveling right now, it solidifies that dream."

Hostos Community College expects 334 students to graduate Friday; 13 percent of them from the nursing program. Three quarters of the graduating class is female.


Bronxdale Houses public housing projects where Judge Sonia Sotomayor grew up, now called the Sotomayor Houses.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Additional reporting by Michael Drury

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