We were delighted to welcome Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (CAS '86), a U.S. representative from Washington's 7th District, on Monday, September 25th. Caroline Healy, Director of Membership for the Georgetown University College Democrats (GUCD) introduced Congresswoman Jayapal and welcomed her to speak about her past experiences and her future plans.
Congresswoman Jayapal recounted the story of how she was born in India and came to the U.S. in 1982 at the age of 16 to attend Georgetown. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked for a Wall Street firm before realizing that the industry wasn't a great fit. She then moved on to start her work in the non-profit sector, eventually becoming a Fellow at the Institute of Current World Affairs, a position that allowed her to travel back to India and live in some of the most impoverished villages there.
After the September 11th, 2001 attacks, Congresswoman Jayapal decided to start her own non-profit organization to protect and promote the immigrant civil liberties. She also worked on the Income Inequality Committee in Seattle, Washington, that helped to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15. In 2014, she became the only woman of color to serve in the Washington State Senate. Now as a representative in the House of Representatives, she hopes to pass the DREAM Act and other various pieces of legislation to help create universal health care and lower the cost of college tuition.
Congresswoman Jayapal expressed the importance of diversity in public office because it sends a visual message to children of color and both genders that they can become anything that they want to be. She believes that America is the only country in the world that could make her story possible, and emphasized that Georgetown’s values helped her focus on fighting for justice.
Before closing her speech, the Congresswoman stated that these are hard times for the Democratic Party, but assured the audience that love and generosity will always beat hate and scarcity.