I was born and grew up right here in Arlington, the heart of Virginia's 8th Congressional District, and as the daughter of immigrants, my family’s story is one of both struggle and opportunity.
My mom grew up in Ecuador and my dad was born to Punjabi Sikh refugees in Thailand. They both came to America in hopes of a better life — but every day was a struggle, a fight.
The Spanish word “luchar” describes what it was like for me to watch my parents make it in America. Because child care cost too much, my mom would bring me to the salon where she worked as a manicurist. And as I watched her work for a $2 tip, I talked with the customers — doctors and lawyers who showed me there was a bigger world than the one I was living in, as well as the path from where I was to there: education.
I hit the books. My parents enrolled me in St. Agnes Catholic School in Arlington, VA and then Georgetown Visitation in Washington, DC, made possible by the generosity of a financial sponsor. I went on to earn a full scholarship to Stanford University through a combination of Pell Grants and Stanford funding. The scholarship enabled me to attend college — paying for my education would have been impossible without it.
Throughout my summers, I gained invaluable experience working in the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. She inspired me to stand out and to speak up on important issues, like the lack of representation of women in Congress. “2 percent was fine for the fat content in milk. It was not good enough for the Senate,” she said, iconically. Today, women make up 27% of Congress and the Senate.