Regardless of circumstance and financial hardship, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proves you can rise to the top. On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, defeating the incumbent, Democratic Caucus Chair Joseph Crowley, in what has been described as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm-election season. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and has been endorsed by various politically progressive organizations and individuals.
Her story begins October 13, 1989, where she was born in the Bronx, New York City. Until age five, she lived with her family in an apartment in Parkchester. The family then moved to a house in Yorktown Heights, a suburb in Westchester County. Growing up, Ocasio-Cortez regularly traveled to the Bronx to visit extended family.
From 2003 to 2007, Ocasio-Cortez attended Yorktown High School, where she won second prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a research project on microbiology. As a result, the International Astronomical Union named a small asteroid after her: 23238 Ocasio-Cortez. In high school, she took part in the National Hispanic Institute’s Lorenzo de Zalvala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session. She later became the LDZ Secretary of State while she attended Boston University. During college, she was an intern in the immigration office of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She graduated fourth in her class from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations.
Ocasio-Cortez has described her background as working-class, and relates many of her political positions to it. When her father died intestate of lung cancer in 2008, she became involved in a long probate battle to settle his estate. She has said that the experience helped her learn “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 credits seeing the treatment of her cousin by law enforcement, as well as her Catholic faith, for her desire to overhaul mass incarceration in the criminal-justice system.
After college, Ocasio-Cortez moved back to the Bronx where she worked two jobs, as a bartender in Manhattan and as a waitress in a taqueria while her mother cleaned houses and drove school buses, as they struggled to fight foreclosure of their home after her father died. With financial backing from Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, she established a publishing firm, Brook Avenue Press, that specializes in children’s literature, portraying the Bronx in a positive light. Thereafter she did a great deal of community work.
At 28 years old, Ocasio-Cortez is one of the youngest Congresswomen, she is the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She will be 29 at the start of the 116th Congress. Congratulations Alexandria!