Born in Ohio but raised in Chicago-suburb Naperville, Illinois, Underwood says her inspiration to work in healthcare came from the doctors and nurses who helped her fight a heart condition she was diagnosed with at age 8. As someone with a pre-existing health condition, she says she knows first-hand how important it is to enact laws and policies that preserve and expand healthcare for Illinois families.
"I have a two-year opportunity to make a real difference and represent the people of the 14th, and they have placed their faith in me," The Chicago Tribune reports Underwood saying at a recent Congressional Black Caucus event. "They've given us a chance. I have to prove myself, and we will, beginning on day one, where I'm leading an effort to reform this government."
In addition to Underwood, several other Congressional newcomers are making history, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women in Congress; Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native American women in Congress; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in Congress; and Jahana Hayes, Connecticut's first black woman in Congress.
When asked by a reporter if she was excited to make history, Underwood said she was excited to be part of "a moment in history." She explained at a CBC event that this new class of Congress "is what [she] always hoped the United States Congress could always look like."
"Diversity of thought, geographic diversity, age, race, gender, life experience are all great things that we each bring to this Congress of the United States," The Chicago Tribune reports her saying. "I'm really proud to be part of a caucus where I'm not 'the only.'"
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These are the women making history as the 116th Congress is sworn in