Lisa Blunt Rochester discusses her journey to Congress

Lisa Blunt Rochester (LBR)
Janella Tachus/THE REVIEW
On Nov. 4, Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman and African-American to represent the state in Congress, placed her vote at the Brandywine Hundred Fire Company.

BY
STAFF REPORTER

In 1988, serving as an intern under Congressman Tom Carper, Lisa Blunt Rochester worked her way up in his office helping the citizens of Delaware. Now, she is the first woman and African-American to represent the state in Congress.

The UD alumna voted on Nov. 4 at the Brandywine Hundred Fire Company grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m surprised today, on this beautiful day, I’m here able to be a part of this chapter of our country and just to be of service,” Blunt Rochester said.

After interning, Blunt Rochester eventually worked as the state’s Secretary of Labor and was the state’s first African-American Deputy Secretary of Health and Social Services and State Personnel Director. While she experiences a lot of gratitude in public service at times, she said she found the job difficult.

“…Sometimes the issues are so tough, like I had people that I was working with who were trying to get social security, disability benefits and it would take them so long, they might even lose their home,” Blunt Rochester said. “And so you take a lot of that stuff to heart but it also — for myself — it motivated me even more to want to do more.”

Her time on the campaign trail has only motivated her further, she said, and made her feel as though her positions leading up to her decision to run for the House of Representatives had prepared her to help even more.

But it wasn’t until 30 years after interning for then-Congressman Carper that she decided to run in this election. Blunt Rochester spent time traveling the world helping women in the Middle East, working with children in Africa and spending time in China with her late husband Charles. It wasn’t until after his accident that she decided to run back in 2014.

“It made me realize life is really short and you have to live your purpose, you know, ‘why are we here?’” Blunt Rochester said. “We’re here to love each other. We’re here to to be connected to each other, and so for me running for office was all about just taking all those lessons I’ve learned throughout my life and trying to use them for good…”

With all the opportunities she has had throughout her lifetime, and as she breaks this barrier for female and African-American Delawareans, she wanted to leave a message to students or jobseekers who might be struggling.

“I think for any student, one of the things I would say is just be open, whatever the opportunity is,” Blunt Rochester said. “Sometimes the job doesn’t look like — you’re saying to yourself, ‘why am I taking this job,’ but all those different pieces do prepare you for your ultimate purpose.”

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