Hispanic Heritage Month Patriots

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Raphael De La Rosa
  • 2014 Hispanic Heritage Committee
Throughout history, there are some whose courage effect positive change for future generations. This week, the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee recognizes two patriots of Hispanic descent who sacrificed, forged, fought and paved the way for Hispanic heritage equality. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was born June 25, 1954, in the New York City borough of the Bronx. She is currently an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009. She has the distinction of being the Supreme Court's first justice of Hispanic heritage.

Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and received her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1979. While at Yale, Sotomayor was the editor of the Yale Law Journal.

She was hired out of law school as an assistant district attorney in New York County District Attorney's office. Following that, she entered private practice, joining the commercial litigation practice group of Pavia and Harcourt in Manhattan as an associate, and later as a partner.

Sotomayor was nominated Nov. 27, 1991, by President George H.W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. With it, she became the youngest judge in the Southern District and the first Hispanic federal judge in the state of New York.

Since becoming the first Hispanic judge to serve on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has received numerous honors including the renaming of the housing development she grew up in and a having a public high school in Los Angeles named after her.

Linda Alvarado was born in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1951. She is the chief executive officer of Alvarado Construction, Inc. in Denver, Colo., president of Palo Alto, Inc. and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies professional baseball team.

Raised with five brothers by parents who had high expectations for their offspring, Alvarado's parents instilled pride in their heritage..

"They helped us to understand that as Hispanics we would probably be faced with some form of bias in our lives, but that we should never use that as an excuse not to try," Alvarado said.

After graduating with a degree in economics from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., Alvarado went to work as a contract administrator for a development company that specialized in large retail, commercial and housing projects.

Her position often put her on the construction site, and she discovered the satisfaction of seeing a building design on a blueprint become a structure. She developed a sense of humor about the bias she faced and remained determined to launch a successful career as a contractor.

Alvarado is a fervent believer in encouraging young women not to limit themselves. She uses her own story to illustrate her points.

"I've been mistaken for a banker, a secretary and even the office cleaning woman, but I've never had someone come up to me and tell me I look like a contractor," Alvarado said. "What is important is not how others see you, but how you see yourself."

(Information provided by Defense Equal Opportunity Military Institute, Patrick AFB, Fla.)