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Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, why was she inspired to work in politics, and how does her work help in the fight against climate change?
Ecology News
2023-08-22T00:00:00.000Z
en-us

Climate change, politics, and normal life have shown us that not all opportunities are equal (such as with healthcare and education) – and political figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have made it their life's work to rectify this kind of discrepancy.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, often dubbed as AOC by many, is an American politician and activist most well known for her work advocating for equal working rights, medicare, tuition-free college in the United States, the Green New Deal, and seeking to terminate ICE – or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

👉 Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, why was she inspired to work in politics, and how does her work help in the fight against climate change? 

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How did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get started?

Early Life & Studies

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York City in the Bronx, where her family eventually moved to Yorktown to ensure their family could receive a better education. As her mother was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and her father was native to the Bronx – they ran a small business together after her mom had served as a domestic worker prior to starting a family. 

However, despite their relatively simple life, Ocasio-Cortez often traveled back to the Bronx to spend time with her family – where she realized over time the discrepancies in education opportunities she and her cousins received.  

These opportunities were vastly different, solely due to where they lived (even within short distances of one another). This was one of the root inspirations for Ocasio-Cortez to get involved in work dedicated towards equality.

Once she finished high school, Ocasio-Cortez went on to study Economics and International Relations at Boston University – which resulted in her being left with thousands of dollars of student loans, ultimately continuing to reveal to her the inequalities present in today’s education system.

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Career Beginnings

During her time at college, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was able to intern at Senator Ted Kennedy’s office – who had an untimely death due to brain cancer. Several well-known political figures looked up to him and were saddened by his death: including the Obamas and current U.S. president Joe Biden.

👉 Throughout her internship with Senator Kennedy, Ocasio-Cortez witnessed first hand the pain many families separated by ICE had faced – which eventually inspired her to organize a Latinx group in The Bronx that spread across the country.

Following this, she started to work as an Educational Director for the National Hispanic Institute – where Ocasio-Cortez helped Americans and undocumented young adults succeed in preparing for college and building communities for support. 

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Tragedy & Inspiration

After the Great Recession of 2008, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suffered her own tragic loss when her father passed from cancer – where rising medical bills almost resulted in her family home’s foreclosure.

After needing to work minimum wage jobs and extra shifts to financially support her family, Ocasio-Cortez was further inspired to help people with low-incomes and that are inevitably presented with unequal opportunities across the country. 

Some of these issues include:

  • Young people denied the right to a good education;
  • Low-income families struggling to pay for healthcare;
  • Undocumented families that end up getting separated.

How did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rise to prominence?

The sudden success and recognition had by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been unprecedented by many, including herself – but she has gone from being just another person on the New York City subway to having people all around the five boroughs of New York recognize her on the streets.

Much of Ocascio-Cortez’s success can be attributed to social media being able to spread news at a rapid fire pace. 

Currently serving as New York’s 14th district representative, Ocascio-Cortez gained massive attention after having encouraged her 2020 presidential candidates to join her in supporting the Green New Deal – seeing as her campaign went viral and attracted the attention of many young people interested in equality and climate change.

Perhaps the most relatable aspect Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez has to offer is her first experience with many of the issues she promotes. She is infamous for having worked as a waitress and bartender in Union Square (a youthful neighborhood in Manhattan).

Ultimately, her socialist views which remain similar to Bernie’s values (which were well-illustrated during the 2016 Presidential Election) and viral speeches helped Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez gain attention – even after securing a seat as New York’s 14th district representative.
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What are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s main goals? 

Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez may be one of the youngest, well-recognized figures in politics right now – but it doesn’t mean her list isn’t long or ambitious on ways to tackle climate change and inequality across the United States.

The heart of much of Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s appeal to people is that she is known for being relatable, having lived much of these difficult experiences herself – with her father’s passing and struggling to be able to pay for her education. 

In addition to this, she is known for her empathic and fiery speeches (her story telling has even been compared to Obama), and being a millennial herself (Ocascio-Cortez is currently only 33 years old) she has gained the attention of other young people through social media. 

Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez has numerous ambitions she is passionate about achieving during her time as New York’s 14th district representative and beyond. 

👉 For example, she is committed to doubling the minimum wage by 2024 – having gone back to being a bartender for a day to raise awareness for the insignificant wages earned by those working minimum wage jobs.

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Another one of Ocascio-Cortez’s goals is to support affordable and fair opportunities for people to receive a good education – echoing a similar sentiment brought about by Bernie-Sanders (who has elected to sit out the 2024 run for president and instead support Biden’s re-election). 

👉 Still, Ocasio-Cortez has provided a like minded and similar-age voice to those who were in support of Sander’s previously promoted ideals – such as medicare and tuition-free college. Sanders would often use the example of driving to the border of Canada where a type of medicine would be a fraction of the cost as it was if you were to drive back to the U.S. side. 

Ocasio-Cortez can give real life examples from her childhood and early adulthood, making her a true empathetic that continues to appeal to young generations.

In terms of fighting for more equal and affordable education, Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez plans to continue encouraging Biden to move forward with his previous promise to forgive $10k in student debt and continuing to oppose any plans to canceling student loans and debt in the future.

Other goals on behalf of Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez include but are not limited to:

  • Providing equal healthcare access and medicare to everyone;
  • Promoting Women’s Rights;
  • Protecting Immigrants;
  • Fair & Affordable Housing.
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How has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped to fight against climate change?

Many young politicians are expected to have some sort of climate change policy up their sleeves, and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez has hers – and somehow found a way to tie in her key message into it as well. 

The well-known Green New Deal was first re-proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herself back in 2019, which outlines a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change.

The Green New Deal would help to improve the negative effects of climate change by:

  • Supporting the transition to the use of renewable energy;
  • Seeking to improve both water and air quality;
  • Provide and prioritize giving job security and financial benefits to low-income and struggling families; 
  • Help vulnerable communities improve their infrastructure to become more climate resilient from the effects of climate change such as sea level rise or hurricanes.
Ultimately, what makes the Green New Deal proposed by Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez so unique and important is how it addresses the inequality issues that have arisen as a result of climate change – which is Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez’s main prerogative.
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Will Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s controversy keep her from success? 

Despite much of the appeal and interest in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez due to her youth, efforts to promote equality, and relatable story – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been faced with much scrutiny and controversy over the past few years as she has risen to prominence.

In short, many have called her stories of struggle to be fraudulent – chalking her campaign up to be nothing more than for money and press.

For instance, Ocasio-Cortez has received backlash for promoting free college education as she attended Boston University – known to be an expensive private school totalling at over $80,000 a year before receiving FAFSA or student financial aid.

Another recent offense is when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended the 2023 Met Gala, having turned heads after beliefs that she may not have paid the bill to get dolled-up for the infamous New York event herself.

Attending the Met Gala isn’t a cheap feat – with Ocasio-Cortez’s basic expenses totalling at around $5,000 for her dress, jewelry, hair and makeup, transportation, and staying at the Carlyle Hotel. It was later confirmed that her campaign did pay for all of these personal expenses, but only after the House Ethics Committee questioned if the expenses had been paid. As a result, it was discovered that several thousands of dollars were still not paid in full following Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance at the Met Gala.

Who paid for Ocasio-Cortez’s expenses associated with the Met Gala?

It eventually led many to believe that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received much of her expenses as a gift, which created controversy as ethics prohibit any members of congress from being exempt from paying these kinds of expenses. Even more so, the allegation was considered ironic given Ocasio-Cortez is known for making comments about how imperative it is to tax the rich to solve many of our current problems with inequality. 

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Ultimately, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is too young and still in the springtime of her career – making it too early to make any assumptions about how far she will go now. However, with her efforts to promote the Green New Deal and make headlines on increasing the country’s minimum wage, it’s almost surefire that all-digital-eyes will still be on her for the foreseeable future.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, her life, her success, and her main goals to fight against climate change has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Taking all the advice and insight from climate figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be overwhelming, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help. Click here to schedule a demo to see how Greenly can help you find ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease the dependency on fossil fuels in your own company. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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