FLORIDA ELECTS FIRST VIETNAMESE CONGRESSWOMAN

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FLORIDA ELECTS FIRST VIETNAMESE CONGRESSWOMAN

The United States embraces diversity by electing the most diverse Congress in history, including Winter Park's very own Stephanie Murphy.

The United States embraces diversity by electing the most diverse Congress in history, including Winter Park's very own Stephanie Murphy.

Zoya Wazir

The United States embraces diversity by electing the most diverse Congress in history, including Winter Park's very own Stephanie Murphy.

Zoya Wazir

Zoya Wazir

The United States embraces diversity by electing the most diverse Congress in history, including Winter Park's very own Stephanie Murphy.

Zoya Wazir, Section Editor

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After the results of the presidential election were announced, many deemed the American ideal of diversity obsolete. However, many minorities were elected into public office as well, including Florida’s very own Stephanie Murphy – the United States’ first Vietnamese congresswoman.

Murphy is a local businesswoman, former national security specialist, and educator at Rollins College in Winter Park. She has degrees in Economics and Foreign Service from William and Mary University and Georgetown University, respectively. Apart from her education, her rise into politics differs from that of most politicians. Murphy’s family fled as refugees from Vietnam’s oppressive communist regime to Malaysia in boats after her birth in 1978, working as laborers until they could afford to come to the United States and give their children a brighter future. Murphy is therefore a first-generation college student and is a role model for many children of immigrants in the United States.

Senior Vince Birrey said, “My family and I migrated to America from the Philippines when I was five years old, so I find Stephanie Murphy’s story really inspiring because my parents came here to give my brother and me a better future, similar to her’s.”

Apart from advocating for immigrant rights, Murphy is also a strong supporter for improvement in the American education system and an avid proponent of early childhood education; she considers her public education the most important aspect  of her journey to this position. Her parents worked blue-collar jobs upon arriving in the United States in order to give their children more educational opportunities, so education is naturally one of her most prioritized issues.

“My parents have always placed a great value on education and have always encouraged my siblings and [me] to educate ourselves to our fullest potential,” said junior Masuma Somji. “When we moved [to the United States] from Tanzania, they worked very hard to ensure that my siblings and I could have the most opportunities possible, and I’m extremely thankful to them for that.”

Murphy has also broken another barrier in her election by advocating for more representation for people of color in Congress. Politics is a predominantly white field, with about 85 percent of Congress being Caucasian; however, after this election, which resulted in the admittance of several people of color, 80 percent of Congress is white — meaning that one in five congressmen are members of ethnic minorities, making this year’s Congress the most diverse in American history.

Murphy also defied the odds during this election by winning against her Republican opponent, career politician John Mica. Mica has been in the political arena for years, whereas Murphy is not officially a politician and appealed to voters with her real world experience in business and education instead. Despite being in opposite political parties, this is a similarity between Murphy and President-elect, Donald Trump.

Junior Simran Shah said, “Honestly, after the election, I was disappointed with the results and felt as if America no longer valued diversity. Seeing stories like this shows me that is not true and reassures me that there is hope for people of color like me to make a difference in the world.”

While there is still a long way to go before diversity has completely been achieved in Congress, Stephanie Murphy’s election is one step closer to an equally represented America.

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