Who Is Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Mom?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a force to be reckoned with. She's busy shaking up D.C. and making waves as a new force for change. Ocasio-Cortez often references her mom, Blanca, as being a particularly positive force in her life. So who is Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, and what's the story that led her to the U.S. with her children? 

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(Image credit: Zach Gibson)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a force to be reckoned with. The youngest woman to ever be sworn into Congress hails from the Bronx, identifies as a Democratic socialist, and has been one of the most talked-about people in D.C. since day one. And the Congresswoman often references her mom, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, as being a particularly positive part of her life.

"Mami mopped floors, drove school buses, + answered phones. She did whatever she needed to do, for me," remembered the congresswoman in a touching Instagram post. It's true—her mom has an inspiring story. So, what do we know about it?

She's from Puerto Rico.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, Blanca lived in poverty in Puerto Rico and raised her siblings while her own mother worked. Blanca later met her husband, Sergio Ocasio, who was originally from the Bronx, and the couple moved to America after getting married in Puerto Rico.

She's worked hard to provide for her family.

Ocasio-Cortez has said, "My parents started from scratch: new languages, new life, new everything." Her dad founded an architectural firm, and Blanca helped make ends meet with secretarial and cleaning work.

Ocasio-Cortez's brother Gabriel once posted a picture of the young family:

She's a single mom.

After Ocasio passed away in 2008 from lung cancer, Blanca became the family's breadwinner. The family was struggling financially for a time, and Alexandria worked as a waitress to help make ends meet.

Blanca says that's where her daughter got her passion and connection to the issues she fights for. "She is fighting for our community,” Blanca said. "She is fighting for the working class. She is fighting for immigrants. We can relate to that. We are working class. We did struggle. We know what struggle means.”

She's supported her daughter's passion.

“Her aspiration is to be the president,” Blanca told the New York Post. “She has been thinking about politics since she was a teenager. She would read historical and political books old and new,” Blanca said.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

And Blanca always knew this would happen. “She would engage in political discussions passionately.” she told the New York Times, "There was nobody who could shut her up. I saw the political tendencies since she was very, very young.”

She campaigned for Ocasio-Cortez.

Blanca spent a few days on the campaign trail and compared her daughter's win to David vs. Goliath. “It’s just incredible,” the proud mom said at the time. “I believed she would do it, but so soon—it was shocking.”

She held the Bible at Ocasio-Cortez's swearing-in.

Ocasio-Cortez posted a truly, truly touching Instagram in which she thanked her mother. "As I raised my hand for the oath, my mother held the holy book & looked into [Nancy Pelosi]'s eyes. Afterwards, the Speaker said to her “you must be so proud,” and my mother began to cry," she said.

Alexandria added, "It was not long ago that our family’s hope was so dim it was barely an ember. Darkness taught me transformation cannot solely be an individual pursuit, but also a community trust."

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Bernie Sanders, James Thompson

(Image credit: The Washington Post)
Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.