Who is AOC? Learn more about progressive representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

·5 min read

With the midterm elections on the horizon, Americans will soon cast their ballots to elect members of Congress.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are elected for two-year terms, meaning all 435 seats are up for grabs in this year’s midterms. The 2022 midterm elections will be held on November 8, 2022 and there are plenty of House races to keep an eye on.

With midterms coming up, it may be time to freshen up your knowledge of the sitting members of Congress, particularly those making headlines with legislation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one such representative, having been elected with one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 midterms.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is known for her progressive views on climate action, inequality and health care.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is known for her progressive views on climate action, inequality and health care.

Who is AOC?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a U.S. congresswoman, the representative from New York’s 14th Congressional District since 2019. Her district includes parts of Queens and the Bronx, where she was born.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is Puerto Rican, is the youngest woman and Latina to serve in Congress. Now 32, Ocasio-Cortez took office at the age of 29. She is often referred to by her initials, AOC. Before assuming office, Ocasio-Cortez was a waitress and bartender and worked as a volunteer organizer for Bernie Sanders in 2016.

She won the general election in 2018 with over 78% of the vote, but her bigger victory was ousting incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primaries of the deep blue district. Crowley had been the 14th Congressional District’s representative since 1999 and was a member of House leadership at the time.

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What is AOC known for?

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is known for her progressive views on health care, income inequality, immigration and combating climate change.

She supports a single-payer health care system and criminal justice reform that ends “over-policing and over-surveilling of Black and brown communities, and to re-imagine public safety,” her official site states. She is also a supporter of gun reform, having cosponsored and voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.

Ocasio-Cortez is perhaps most known for her work on the Green New Deal resolution, which she introduced with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. The Green New Deal proposes a decade of action to fight climate change through infrastructure changes and reducing pollution and fighting racial and economic injustice.

Ocasio-Cortez and former Senator John Kerry (now the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate) co-chair the Climate Change Unity Task Force.

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of “The Squad,” a group of progressive members of Congress. The original four were congresswomen of color elected in 2018: Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, both elected in 2020, are now also referred to as members of "The Squad." The group has made headlines over the past four years for progressive action in Congress as well as having highly publicized racist and Islamophobic comments directed at them.

In 2019, former President Donald Trump told the representatives to “go back” to their own countries. Three of the "Squad" representatives were born in the U.S. and Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia more than two decades ago.

In early 2021, an altered photo circulated on social media depicted “The Squad” seemingly wearing swastikas on their dresses and masks. USA TODAY determined the image was an edited version of a photo posted of the six representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez has faced other attacks from Republican congressmen. Florida Rep. Ted Yoho confronted Ocasio-Cortez in July 2020, calling her “disgusting,” among other expletives. In November 2021, the House censured Rep. Paul Gosar for posting a video edited to depict him killing Ocasio-Cortez.

“Others may see a person who is admired, but my everyday lived experience here is as a person who is despised,” Ocasio-Cortez told GQ in September 2022.

Aside from her legislative work, Ocasio-Cortez is one of the most well known representatives. In 2020, CNN reported that she had the most Twitter followers of any member of the House with a following of 7.8 million (she now has 13.4 million followers). She portrays herself on social media as she is on Capitol Hill — she’s live-streamed herself playing “Among Us” ("a party game of teamwork and betrayal," according to creator Innersloth) and her Instagram stories are a Millenial-esque mix of cooking videos, doing laundry and answering questions about policy.

Ocasio-Cortez speaks to abortion-rights activists after the announcement of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022.
Ocasio-Cortez speaks to abortion-rights activists after the announcement of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022.

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Where is AOC from?

Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx but moved to Yorktown (about 30 minutes north) because her parents were searching for stronger school systems, her official biography states. Her mother was born and raised in Puerto Rico and her father in the Bronx.

Where did AOC go to college?

Ocasio-Cortez attended Boston University in Massachusetts. She graduated with degrees in economics and international relations. As a student, she interned for the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s office.

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Who is AOC’s fiance?

Ocasio-Cortez is engaged to longtime partner Riley Roberts, confirming in May 2022 that the pair got engaged in her family’s hometown in Puerto Rico. The two met over a decade ago as undergraduates at Boston University. Together they own a French bulldog named Deco.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is AOC? Learn more about Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.