WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS10) – The youngest woman ever elected to congress was born and raised in the Capital Region: Elise Stefanik.
A year ago, no one knew her name. So how did a shy girl from Albany take her first political campaign all the way to our Nation’s Capitol?
“I was an underdog, there were many people who weren’t taking me seriously,” Stefanik said. “A 29-year-old girl… she’ll never win the nomination let along win the general election,” she continued.
Elise Stefanik made history when she became the youngest women ever elected to congress. But how’d she do it?
To truly understand how she landed at the Capitol, you have to start at the Albany Academy for Girls 20 years ago.
“I transferred there in fourth grade in the middle of the school year . I was bullied at my previous school and I just took off like a rocket from Girls Academy,” said Stefanik.
Alisa Scapatici was her teacher then, but her friend now.
SLIDESHOW: Elise Stefanik: A road to Congress
“You can tell when there’s an extra spark in someone, and Elise had that,” Scapatici said.
She also had the gumption to run for student council. It was a one issue campaign. She won the election, got a snack machine and made sure some of the profits went to pay for school dances.
“So I like to say it put us on the path to fiscal responsibility way back when,” Stefanik said.
What came later was Harvard, a brush with Mark Zuckerberg, and a chance to join Facebook right at the beginning and become a millionaire. An opportunity she blew because she didn’t want to skip class.
“Someday I’m going to be telling my future kids that mom missed out on the opportunity to be one of the first employees of Facebook, and instead made sure she went to class and didn’t skip,” said Stefanik.
With a slick campaign, winning her election to congress was easy. Getting in the Capitol building when you look this young, not so much
“It even happens once every two weeks now, the Capitol Police doesn’t realize I’m a member of congress and the only way I get on the floor is when they see my pin,” Stefanik said.
She’s half the age of many members, but hey like her. Her password to success, remember where you came from. Her office is a testament to that.
“I pinch myself all the time,” said Stefanik.
And be grateful and mindful of the example she sets.
“the young girls in upstate New York, I hope they look to me as a guiding light for what they can achieve and I hope the record is broken a lot sooner for the youngest woman ever elected, I hope it’s broken very quickly because we certainly would be better if we had more women in congress, but if we have more young women,” said Stefanik.