On sidelines, Hispanics cheer Sotomayor

"If she can be on the Supreme Court, then the sky's the limit for me and everyone else," said Lydia Colunga-Merchant, 23.

Francisco Gonzalez, 32, said, "She's going to bring a common-man perspective to the court."

Sotomayor "has been able to excel while staying true to who she is," added Adriana Barboza, 25. "That matters a lot to me, because that's what I want."

• By Judy Keen

Oxnard, Calif.

"Hang in there and work hard"

In this city where United Farm Workers organizer Cesar Chavez once lived, migrant workers from Mexico have toiled for decades, and Hispanics make up 66% of the nearly 200,000 population. Here, Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court is more than just a call to celebrate Hispanic pride. It's a call to action.

Oxnard, the largest city in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, is an agricultural center also known within the relatively affluent county as a place struggling with poverty, gangs and school dropouts.

"If there was ever a time to tell our kids to hang in there and work hard, this is it," said Carmen Ramirez, 60, a longtime community activist and attorney in Oxnard of Mexican descent. "Any person of color could look at her and say, 'I do have a future.' "

Oxnard attorney Barbara Macri-Ortiz, who is of Italian descent, married a man of Mexican descent and has two partly Mexican-American children. An education lawyer, she represents families whose children face expulsion. Now, she said, "we have an African-American president. We have a Latina on the Supreme Court. We can say to our kids, 'No excuses. You can do great things, too.' "

• By David Leon Moore

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

"It's like a national sport"

On the streets of this western port city, Sotomayor's relatives have become minor celebrities.

At Tito's Bakery, a mom-and-pop store that her cousin, Jose "Tito" Baez Gonzalez, has owned for 30 years, the traffic of well-wishers has been steady. On Thursday, a New York family stopped by to take photos of themselves with Baez.

"Definitely it's an historic event for our family, for Latinos and for Puerto Rico," Baez, 54, says in Spanish.

Across this island of 4 million people, news outlets have tracked the ins and outs of the nomination. Local radio stations carried the Senate vote live.

"It's like a national sport out here," says William Ramirez, executive director of the ACLU Puerto Rico. "Everybody is pretty much rooting for her."

Baez and his family celebrated Thursday night at a dinner gathering at his home with a champagne toast.

His nephew, Jose Garcia Baez, 37, an attorney in Mayaguez, says Sotomayor's rise from poverty, the loss of her father at a young age and childhood with a single mother to the Ivy League and ultimately the Supreme Court can inspire anyone who works hard.

"It's an incredible story," he says.

Sergio Zeligman, owner of Las Gangas clothing store in downtown Mayaguez, says Sotomayor's achievement makes Latinos feel they are part of the fabric of the United States. "We have representation that we've never had before."

• By Marisol Bello

Contributing: Kathy Kiely in Washington

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