From the time she was a student at Cardinal Spellman High in the North Bronx, Sonia Sotomayor was a leader and an academic standout.
Renee Fiorenza, who is now a teacher at Spellman, graduated from the Catholic school with Sotomayor in 1972 and was proud to hear that her former classmate was nominated Tuesday by President Barack Obama to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
"As a fellow student I knew she would make it far," said Fiorenza. "She was the type of person you knew would get far. No doubt about it, she had great potential."
Sotomayor was born in the Bronx to parents who came to New York from Puerto Rico and grew up in the Bronxdale public houses. Her father died when she was only nine years old, and her mother worked long hours to be able to pay the tuition to send her to Spellman.
"Sonia's mom bought the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood, sent her children to a Catholic school called Cardinal Spellman, out of the belief that with a good education here in America all things are possible," said Obama in his nomination address Tuesday.
News of the president's nomination of Sotomayor had faculty members and alumni hugging in Spellman's halls. Jeri Faulkner, who is the dean of students, also went to the school when the Supreme Court nominee walked through the hallways.
"She will shape or help to shape all of our futures. It is wonderful. It is the American dream!" said Faulkner.
Spellman graduate and Bronx Civil Court Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez agrees. Gonzalez, who is also the vice president of the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, said that Sotomayor is an outstanding choice for everyone, but especially for the Latino community.
"I think that for the Latino community the ability to celebrate the first supreme court judge is just phenomenal," said Gonzalez. "There are just no words, there are no words to describe our pride [as a community], our orgullo como comunidad."
Although Sotomayor's selection still has to be confirmed by the Senate, the excitement over her nomination is a true inspiration around the borough.