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September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Sonia Sotomayor, whose parents were from Puerto Rico, was the first Hispanic American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Grid showing all six women who have or will serve on the Supreme Court including Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson

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When Sonia Sotomayor was a kid in New York City, a TV show about a lawyer inspired her to dream about working in a courtroom. Eventually, that dream turned into a career—and a seat on the bench of the most powerful court in the country.

Sotomayor is one of the nine justices (judges) on the United States Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the U.S. president and approved by the Senate. Their decisions impact every American because they rule on whether laws are fair according to the U.S. Constitution. When Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court in 2009, she became the first Hispanic American justice. 

 Sotomayor, whose parents were from Puerto Rico, grew up in a part of New York City called the Bronx. In September 2022, Sotomayor returned to her old neighborhood to see the unveiling of a statue that was created in her honor. The statue is now on display in a shopping center that’s not far from her childhood home.

“[The statue is] quite amazing,” Sotomayor told the Associated Press. “Looks a lot like me.” 

Although Sotomayor now works in Washington, D.C., where the Supreme Court is located, she’s proud to be from the Bronx and continues to feel a connection to it. 

“I love the Bronx. I love my community,” she said.

Sotomayor is still a huge fan of the New York Yankees, the baseball team that plays its home games in the Bronx. When she wasn’t watching baseball games, young Sotomayor watched Perry Mason, a TV show about a lawyer. The show influenced her decision to become a lawyer, which put on her a path that eventually led to the Supreme Court.  

“[Being chosen for the Supreme Court] was the most electrifying moment of my life,” she once told TV host Oprah Winfrey. “[It was] a moment in which you sit and realize that you’ve gone further than any dream you ever had, that you’ve reached something that never seemed possible.”


Hurricane Fiona Hits Puerto Rico

Debris from destroyed houseboats is scattered across the road near Houseboat Roy in Key West, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 25, 1998 as 90 mph winds batter the island city as the eye of Hurricane Georges passes by.

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On September 18, 2022, Hurricane Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico, which is located in the Caribbean Sea. The storm’s strong winds and heavy rain left most of the island flooded and without power and running water. From Puerto Rico, the hurricane traveled northwest to the Dominican Republic before hitting the islands of Turks and Caicos.

Hurricane Fiona has caused widespread destruction. Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in 2017.

Did You Know?

Map of the U.S. showing a few caps and diplomas to represent few college graduates in 1940 changes to a map with many caps and diplomas to represent 2021.
© Africa Studio/, © notviper–iStock/Getty Images; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

In 1940, around 5 percent of Americans had a college degree. In 2021, around 38 percent had a college degree.


Learn more about colleges and universities at Britannica School!

Rising Costs

A line graph shows the cost of a year of college between 1963 and 2020 decreasing slightly before starting an increase after 1979.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

© Nirat Makjuntuk/; Infographic Encycopædia Britannica, Inc.

College tuition has increased steadily over the years. The chart above shows this increase.  

The numbers have been adjusted for inflation, which means that in 1963, the cost of college was the same as $10,408 today.

So Many Schools

Many people opt for vocational training after high school. What’s it all about?

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