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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CAS’11) Named One of Time’s 2019 100 Most Influential People

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) writes: “Millions are taking cues from her”

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The year 2008 set a lot of things in motion for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

As the financial world crumbled, and she was studying international relations and economics at BU, Ocasio-Cortez (CAS’11) lost her dad to lung cancer and saw her family devastated by financial hardship. It would prove to be a pivotal time in her life, one that ultimately played a role in her election a decade later to the US House of Representatives and led to Time magazine naming her to its 2019 list of the world’s most influential people. At the age of 29.

“She watched as our government bailed out Wall Street while it ignored families like hers,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) writes of Ocasio-Cortez in Time. And referring to the college debt the freshman congresswoman had accrued: “She learned the hard way that in America today, Washington protects the powerful while leaving hardworking people behind.”

As hard as AOC, as she is now commonly known, has worked since her election last November, the first-generation Puerto Rican American has also been a lightning rod for criticism from the political right, and even from some in her own party. She’s been chided for “fuzzy math” and mistakes on budgetary numbers, she’s acknowledged that she rolled out a plan for what she called the Green New Deal too quickly, and she’s been criticized by fellow Democrats for failing to fall in with the party line and for touting her democratic socialist views. Gaffes like incorrectly describing the branches of government didn’t help her either.

And yet, Ocasio-Cortez was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and she ran a campaign that didn’t take corporate money. She pushed forward the Green New Deal and has taken on huge issues, from social injustice, sexism, and Medicare for all to criminal justice and immigration reforms.

Partly because of her aggressive use of social media, Ocasio-Cortez has become somewhat of a media darling, appearing on a previous cover of Time and making Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list. Her activism dates back to her days at BU, where she was a leading student ambassador for the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. She returned to campus last October to speak to students, urging them to become activists for social justice despite the odds.

One thing seems certain: the Democrats will need her as they head into the 2020 election. “She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people,” Warren writes in her essay. “And she’s just getting started.”

The Time 100 list is broken into five categories: Ocasio-Cortez is among those in the “Leaders” section, along with President Trump and Robert Mueller; “Pioneers” includes actress Sandra Oh and model Chrissy Teigen; “Artists” contains Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke; “Icons” includes names like Michelle Obama and Christine Blasey Ford; and among the “Titans” is Tiger Woods and Lebron James.

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Amy Laskowski, Senior Writer at Boston University Marketing & Communications editorial department
Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

9 Comments on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CAS’11) Named One of Time’s 2019 100 Most Influential People

  • Missy on 04.22.2019 at 5:42 am

    “She watched as our government bailed out Wall Street while it ignored families like hers,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) writes of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in Time. And referring to the college debt the freshman congresswoman had accrued: “She learned the hard way that in America today, Washington protects the powerful while leaving hardworking people behind.”

    AOC like all students who choose to attend expensive private schools like BU took on college debt based on their own choices and moreover, they all signed their legally binding student loan documents upon doing so and they all had an exit interview. While it is a shame that AOC lost her dad while in school (I know how it feels because I did too), no one forced her, or me or anyone else to accrue debt by attending BU. Now AOC has the audacity to run around suggesting that tax payers who paid for their own way or that of the their children through four years of college at a less expensive and less prestigious state schools (because that was all they could afford) should help pick up the tab for our decision to attend an expensive private school, as if we had no other options in life! I am sorry, if I offend anyone with this reality check, but I do not view this thought process as being commensurate with true leadership. I watch Dave Ramsey, set budget and eat beans and rice to help me pay off my student loans and I suggest she do the same; it builds character.

    • Paul on 04.22.2019 at 12:01 pm

      Agreed, Also Dave Ramsey is great!

    • Common sense on 04.25.2019 at 8:43 am

      Hold on now, you’re making a little too much sense. Why should someone be held accountable for their own choices just because they wanted to go to an overpriced school with tuition that keeps skyrocketing like BU? It’s just easier if we all pay higher taxes so BU can be “free” haha. I’m over $50,000 in student debt because I chose to go to BU. I’m not complaining though, I studied a STEM subject, got a good job, and thankfully make enough that I will be able to pay it off in a few years. I don’t expect anyone to pay for my choices in life. That’s the difference between socialism and understanding how economics actually works and having personal accountability. If you signed the loan documents for $100,000 and studied “underwater basket weaving” for 4 years then couldn’t get a job that pays the $200,000 a year that you envisioned that’s not the tax payers problem. It comes down to a lot of people being financially illiterate and also schools that sell a dream that make you believe studying art history will land a high paying career.

  • Liberal bias media on 04.22.2019 at 9:01 am

    It was Obama and the Dems that bailed out the automotive industry and wall street back in 2008.
    “She watched as our government bailed out Wall Street while it ignored families like hers,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) writes of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in Time.

    • Bryan Redmond on 04.22.2019 at 11:05 am

      They didn’t say it was the previous administration. Warren wasn’t even in office in 2008

  • Greg on 04.24.2019 at 6:10 pm

    AOC has become a living internet meme … and NOT in a flattering way. Her basic understanding of economics has more than her fellow alums wondering how she actually graduated … that weak baseline knowledge, can’t help her when questions of basic government arise (there aren’t ‘three chambers’ – that was embarrassing) … I said, when she was first elected, that she should go slow, learn the ins/outs of DC, walk a little before trying to run, but nope – she was on every late night program, doing her goofy little video things, and standing in behind the other two radical freshmen – and she’s made a fool of herself … and her Amazon HQ display was absolutely inexcusable!

    She’s already spawned a challenger in that district .. perhaps even two or three .. and I highly doubt that she’ll be in Congress after 2020.

  • Jonathan on 04.25.2019 at 8:24 am

    It’s pretty sad that BU keeps pointing to AOC as one of their great high achieving alumni. She has a degree in economics but is a socialist, obviously nothing was learned at BU in those economics courses. It’s like majoring in computer science and being against any form of technology. AOC put her BU econ degree to use as a bartender for years then won in a district where voter turnout was only 11%. The media fell in love with her because she fits their agenda. But next election cycle their will be so much money thrown behind an opposing candidate in that district that it won’t even be funny. Even Nancy Polosi has openly laughed at her ideas. AOC is what is wrong with Congress, as soon as she got in their she refused to reach across the isle and work with anyone that didn’t share her socialist views. AOC should be a case study on why voter turnout matters and what can happen when people don’t vote. After causing NYC to lose 25000 high paying tech jobs because she didn’t understand the economics behind the deal I doubt she’ll be reelected. BU should be distancing themselves from AOC she is a complete embarrassment to the school.

  • socialism on 04.25.2019 at 12:03 pm

    Socialism is the answer to the question “how do I pay the $100,000 student loan I took out to attend BU” oh have someone else pay for it obviously. This is funny “One thing seems certain: the Democrats will need her as they head into the 2020 election.” She has been the biggest gift the republicans have ever seen and will definitely help them in 2020.

  • Andrew Amodei on 04.25.2019 at 2:38 pm

    I’m a BU grad student, and I think the president had a legitimate response to her culture clasting when he stated during the SOTU:

    “We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

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