Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

The 29-year-old made history as the youngest woman to be elected to the US Congress, beating Elise Stefanik, who set the record in 2014 at 30 years old

By Rahul Venkat

The US Congress will welcome its youngest woman on January 2019 when Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, takes oath in the US House of Representatives. She will succeed 10-term veteran, Joe Crawley, who endorsed her bid after losing the majority in the Primary elections held in June this year.

 

“We have made history tonight,” the 29-year-old told cheering supporters at her victory party in Queens, New York. She represents the city’s 14th district, covering parts of Bronx and Queens; areas which she grew up in. Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a working-class woman and based her campaign on that image.

She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations. At the same time, she interned with late senator, Ted Kennedy, and also assisted Bernie Sanders in his failed presidential bid in 2016. She modelled herself as a ‘socialist democrat’, inspired by Sanders.

It is a landmark win for Ocasio-Cortez, considering the current racial climate in the US. She also has Puerto Rican roots as her mother was born there. Her father died of lung cancer in 2008, and the subsequent battle to settle his estate taught her “firsthand how attorneys appointed by the court to administer an estate can enrich themselves at the expense of the families struggling to make sense of the bureaucracy.”

She also credited the experience of her cousin’s treatment by law enforcement, as well as her Catholic faith, for her desire to overhaul mass incarceration in the criminal-justice system. She worked as a bartender and waitress to support herself and her mother worked as a house-help. The Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator helped her set up the publishing firm, Brook Avenue Press, which was her first introduction to business.