By Carol Queiroz & Samantha Simmons
Image via CNET
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, widely known as AOC, was born on October 13th, 1989, in the Bronx, New York City. No one in the quaint hospital room she was born in knew how truly powerful she would become in not only her personal life, but also in American Politics. Ocasio-Cortez has been a Representative for New York's 14th congressional district since 2019. She spent her childhood shifting between two starkly different environments located in just New York City itself. In her early teens, she spent time in both the Bronx and Yorktown, which opened her eyes to an opportunity gap between the two boroughs that local politicians did not make an effort to fix. It was then that Ocasio-Cortez came to the realization that it was her duty to strive for equality and unity within a divided city, leading her to focus on assisting a broken nation later on in her career. After high school, she attended Boston University with the intention of making a positive mark within the world around her. Double-majoring in international relations and economics, Ocasio-Cortez graduated with top honors in her class, setting the stage for her bright future as a politician. As a college student, Ocasio-Cortez interned with United States senator, Ted Kennedy, in his section of foreign affairs and immigration laws, giving her the political experience she needed to find her voice on a local stage. Before her political career, she also held multiple low-paying jobs in the restaurant industry in order to help her family pay the bills in a time of a medical crisis within her familial ties. In these positions, Ocasio-Cortez began to understand the struggles of low-income citizens, and the congresswoman gained humility and grace. Many Republican politicians paint Ocasio-Cortez to be young, naive and uneducated, and though she is the youngest congress representative in American history, these notions could not be further from the truth. Ocasio-Cortez is known globally for her international studies in microbiology, and she graduated Cum Laude after attending college. Ocasio-Cortez started a grass-roots campaign powerful enough to launch her straight to Washington, where she fights for social, economic and racial justice in a nation bogged down by division. Ocasio-Cortez has proven that she has earned her place at the political table, which in turn, inspires younger generations.
Not only is Ocasio-Cortez able to connect with the United States’ working class based on her personal experience, but she has consistently appealed to American youth. While the political views of younger generations, particularly generation Z, are still developing, rising generations have overall shown support progressive ideas and policies thus far, which is what Ocasio-Cortez advocates for. Her support of Medicare for everyone, more federal jobs, abolishing the school-to-prison pipeline, gun reform, LGBTQ+ rights, combating climate change (read more about AOC’s Green New Deal here) and more aligns with what most of the younger generations believe in, making her incredibly popular among youth. Recognizing this, Ocasio-Cortez connects with people across the nation through creative utilizations of social media. With a current following of 8.2 million on her personal Instagram (and 1 million on her federal Instagram), she has been known to interact with her followers, answering their political questions whenever she has time. Using Instagram’s ask questions feature, she has had many Q&A’s with followers answering questions ranging from how to ask representatives to hold town hall meetings to what an average day is like for her to how she got into politics. She has also hosted several Instagram lives where she talks to her followers about what she is currently working on or what is going on in the government.
Her most recent Instagram live on Dec. 11, 2020, lasting over an hour and reaching 3.5 million views, featured the representative cooking in her “Tax the Rich'' shirt while talking about COVID-19 relief updates, stimulus checks and Medicare in the US. After talking about how the healthcare system isn’t affordable and how a guaranteed healthcare system should be implemented, Ocasio-Cortez slammed people who call her a radical leftist in a speech known as ‘Shoutout to my fellow radicals’ that later went viral. She went on to also mention the legalization of marijuana, taxing the rich and funding schools. And on Dec. 18 when she got her COVID-19 vaccine, she took to Instagram to show followers her experience and answer questions about the vaccine.
Finally, arguably one of Ocasio-Cortez’s most unconventional and successful social media uses, was when she streamed herself playing the popular video game Among Us on Twitch. The representative has had two streams so far, one to encourage people to get out and vote in the 2020 election and the second to raise money for COVID-19 relief. This was one of the few instances a politician was able to use Twitch to reach thousands of voters and fundraise effectively, leading to this stream being one of the platforms biggest in history. In fact, she was able to raise $200,000 dollars for eviction defense, food pantries, and more.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has worked tirelessly to impact, inspire, and improve the lives of millions of Americans within her line of career. Throughout her line of work, AOC has proven that with hard work and perseverance, any person can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.
Written by writers Carol Queiroz & Samantha Simmons