It is with pride I write this article today. This past week, after the midterms — with the Republicans keeping the Senate and the Democrats taking back the House — two of three Boston University alumni, who are also women of color, won seats in Congress. The three women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Gina Ortiz Jones of Texas are incredibly successful and make up many firsts.
Ocasio-Cortez is the elected Democratic U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District and is the youngest woman to ever be elected into the United States Congress. Ocasio-Cortez was born into a Puerto Rican working-class family in the Bronx in 1989 and has been striving for success since childhood. In 2007, Ocasio-Cortez started attending BU on the John F. Lopez Fellowship and ended up double-majoring in economics and international relations while also becoming Secretary of State of the National Hispanic Institute’s Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session.
During her time at BU, Cortez lost her father to a tough battle with lung cancer and ended up facing a long legal battle after he passed without writing a will. She was an intern in the immigration office for Sen. Ted Kennedy before graduating cum laude in 2011. While already having accomplished so much, Cortez has hustled to start her career to fight for the rights of all Hispanic people in this country, and her main interests lie in entrepreneurship and “developing innovative, healthy, enterprising communities for generations to come,” according to the BU Student Activities website.
Pressley is from Chicago, Illinois, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Massachusetts’ 7th District. Pressley is first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She was in the College of General Studies at BU for two years before dropping out to support her mom, who had recently lost her job.
Finally, Ortiz Jones was the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. Ortiz Jones, who was raised as a first-generation American to a single-mother from the Philippines, is a war veteran and politician who graduated from BU in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies and a master’s in economics. Ortiz Jones, while having not won the 23rd district, gained popularity by running to be the first openly lesbian member of Congress.
The power of these three women, and the trailblazing attitude of the midterms in general (with over 100 female candidates set to win seats in Congress) shows that the so-called Year of the Woman has really taken shape in our country. With the aforementioned movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March, and women being much more central to political conversations, the development of our country’s power lies with the women who will change the rules for the future. The most empowering part of this midterm election was seeing how many women were at the “front line,” fighting for what the current government has deemed as unimportant: the rights of the women. The times we are living in are influential because young people are the change we wish to see, and because of this, we are already determined to make an impact.
Recently, I’ve been realizing how great my opportunity for being at BU is (and this isn’t just another promo, I’m serious). And I know that I want to make a difference as well. Seeing these three powerful alumni, and hundreds more, act in important ways in each of their fields, proves to me that BU is the place for me to start making that difference. I feel like we — BU students — exude greatness because we are all driven to accomplish our dreams, whatever they may be. Living through this life-changing midterm election made me have a revelation about how to grab the terrier by the horns, if you will, and accomplish every goal I’ve set for myself.