alexandria ocasio-cortez
Known by her initials, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman and youngest Latina to ever serve in the US Congress. Source: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez single-handedly transformed our idea of what a politician can be, where they can come from, and how they can fight for what they believe in.” 

That’s how US soccer Olympian athlete Megan Rapinoe described Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her show, “Seeing America“. 

Known by her initials, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman and Latina to ever serve in the US Congress. 

In 2018, she made history when she defeated 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House.

The best part? 2018 was the first time Ocasio-Cortez ran for office as a Democratic Socialist of Puerto Rican descent. 

She is well-known for her progressive politics, community activism, and wide-reaching social media presence. 

Her most notable contribution thus far is outlining the scope of a “Green New Deal.

The resolution proposed the switch to renewable energy sources for the entire country, aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, according to Biography

But what exactly sparked her interest in running for Congress?

Here’s how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman to be elected in Congress:

A background in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As a child, Ocasio-Cortez already experienced the barriers to accessing education. 

It’s why her family decided to move 30 minutes to Yorktown from the Bronx in search of a better public school for her and her brother. 

This move forced young Ocasio-Cortez to observe the difference in educational opportunities available to her and her cousins who still lived in the Bronx. 

Since then, she has made it a point to take full advantage of her educational opportunities. 

At Yorktown High School, Ocasio-Cortez participated in the National Hispanic Institute’s Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. 

On top of that, she won second place in the microbiology category of the 2007 Intel Science and Engineering Fair in appreciation of her research project. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory even named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez.

After high school, Ocasio-Cortez reports that she took out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to attend Boston University, where annual tuition now hovers around 61,000 US dollars

She graduated with two bachelor’s of arts degrees, majoring in economics and international relations. 

At uni, Ocasio-Cortez attended the John F. Lopez Fellowship, an experience-based learning opportunity sponsored by the National Hispanic Institute. 

With her achievements and experiences, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slowly made her way into the political sphere. 

Paving her way into Congress

alexandria ocasio-cortez

Ocasio-Cortez volunteered as a community organiser for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential election. Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Before entering Congress, Ocasio-Cortez sought an internship concentrating on foreign affairs and immigration issues in the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy’s office.

As the only Spanish speaker in the office, she often worked with constituents calling to locate family members recently detained and potentially deported by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

After graduating college, the young Latina returned to the Bronx and worked various jobs.

According to the National Women’s History Musuem, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an Educational Director for the National Hispanic Institute, founded the Brook Avenue Press (a now-defunct publishing press created to share positive stories about the Bronx), and was a waitress and bartender. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s first dive into politics was when she was a community organiser for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential election. The campaign was organised in the South Bronx neighbourhood. 

Life lessons she learned in her life as a politician

alexandria ocasio-cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urging the Senate advocated for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the US in the Build Back Better Act. Source: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

As an active member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Ocasio-Cortez ran on a progressive platform — abolishing ICE, criminal justice reform, tuition-free college and universal healthcare.

As a politician, she saw the unequal educational opportunities across the country, how debts from medical bills and student loans can severely affect one’s life, and how devastating the lack of access to immigration opportunities is to families.

Today, Ocasio-Cortez remains committed to serving her community.

Perhaps that’s why she was reelected for a third term in New York’s 14th Congressional District.