If any young, ambitious woman needs a role model who exemplifies hard work and leadership, she needs to look at Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). On November 18, 2015, the first Latina Congresswoman’s official portrait was unveiled. Not only is the she first Latina to serve in the US House of Representatives but she was also the first woman to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ros-Lehtinen’s life is a legacy of breaking barriers. When she was eight years old, her family fled Cuba and came to the United States. She didn’t speak a single word of English. She said at the unveiling ceremony, “As a young Cuban refugee who didn’t speak a word of English, I could not have imagined that one day my portrait would hang in the halls of Congress. However, this portrait is a testament to all those, like my parents Enrique and Amanda Ros, who worked diligently for freedom in their native homeland of Cuba and around the world. This day is for them.”
At the unveiling ceremony, current House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) acknowledged Ros-Lehtinen’s incredible leadership and servant hood.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) acknowledged that not only is Ileana a remarkable and strong leader but she’s also a dear friend and even referred to her as her “girl friend.” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-PA) made remarks about Ileana’s work and the investment she poured into the Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, Cuban pro-democracy leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” Holocaust survivor David Mermelstein, former prisoner of conscience Harry Wu made remarks about Ros-Lehtinen’s love for freedom and passion for progress. Her husband Dexter Lehtinen concluded the ceremony with kind and sweet remarks about how Ros-Lehtinen is not only a mountain moving politician but an amazing wife, mother, and grandmother.
Since 1989, Ros-Lehtinen has worked with an array of people who have seen the willingness to work with people from different viewpoints. She’s an energetic voice for the voiceless and seeks to work with people to reach the common goal of fighting freedom. As someone who escaped an oppressive and tyrannical government, her energy to fight against tyranny comes from her soul. She doesn’t just exude a physical energy but an energy that comes from standing up for doing the right thing and to make the country a happier and freer place.
As a 21-year-old college student who loves freedom, I whispered to myself at the end of the ceremony, “Wow, what a boss babe!”