How Old Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Where Did She Grow Up?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old congresswoman, is from New York’s 14th congressional district and was born on October 13, 1989. There’s a solid foundation that led to this millennial’s phenomenal upset over the long-standing Democratic incumbent, Robert Crowley.

Ocasio-Cortez’s strong sense of family values and working-class background paved the way for her landmark ranking as the “youngest woman ever elected to Congress.” In fact, it’s precisely because of her struggles to maintain an apartment in Washington, D.C. and cover other expenses that have made her so relatable to voters across the spectrum.

Where did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grow up?

Born in the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, Ocasio-Cortez’s architect father was also a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent while her mother was born in Puerto Rico. Her tight-knit extended family offered Ocasio-Cortez’s parents the assistance they needed to move to a better school district.

Maintaining close ties to her Bronx family, Ocasio-Cortez realized early on the disparity in incomes between the affluent Yorktown Heights area of Westchester County and the impoverished inner city. Perhaps that’s why her 780,000 Instagram followers find her so “refreshing and real.”

Ocasio-Cortez made the most of the advantages she was given. According to Wikipedia, while a student at Yorktown High School, she won second prize for her microbiology research project on the “effect of antioxidantson C. elegans‘ lifespan” at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The asteroid, 23238 Ocasio-Cortez, has been named in her honor by the International Astronomical Union.

She also participated in the National Hispanic Institute‘s Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session in high school and went on to become the LDZ Secretary of State at Boston University(BU). Ocasio-Cortez won the prestigious John F. Lopez Fellowship, which honors high-achieving students.

While a student at BU, Ocasio-Cortez interned for Senator Ted Kennedy’s immigration office. In 2011, she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in international relations. Ocasio-Cortez also holds a minor in economics.

Ocasio-Cortez’s everyday struggles

Ocasio-Cortez’s father died of cancer while she was a sophomore at BU. Because he died intestate, her mother was forced to make ends meet as a bus driver and housekeeper while his estate lingered in probate court.

Once Ocasio-Cortez graduated from college, she went to work at such jobs as a waitressing and bartending to supplement her mom’s income and prevent foreclosure of their home. She also created a children’s book publishing company, Brook Avenue Press, and worked as an educator for the National Hispanic Institute.

Ocasio-Cortez’s political career

After her internship for Kennedy, Ocasio-Cortez expanded her interest and political voice to include working as a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders Democratic bid for president in 2016. The connections she made with the staff there, called Brand New Congress, supported her run against the 10-term 14th District incumbent, Crowley.

According to Ballotpedia, Ocasio-Cortez was also supported by “Justice Democrats, The People for Bernie Sanders, NYC Democratic Socialists of America, and Demand Universal Healthcare.” Her platform as a Democratic Socialist is to shake up the corporate-run political system and become a voice for working people.

Her promise offers to “create a nation of dignified healthcare, tuition-free higher education, quality employment, and justice for all – and we’re the only ones to do it without corporate money.” Indeed, her grassroots campaign caught on and grew from a little voice that her opponents barely heard to the sounding board they couldn’t ignore.

Ocasio-Cortez inspired other candidates, such as Cynthia Nixon, to take up the working people’s banner. Although Nixon’s bid for the New York gubernatorial race against Andrew Cuomo was unsuccessful this time, it’s certainly giving the status quo pause.