Celebrating a first, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, took time this weekend to take part in a special swearing-in ceremony at her alma mater – Neuqua Valley High School.
Saturday’s event drew supporters from across the Congressional 14th District of Illinois, which includes portions of Will County. Earlier this month, Underwood was sworn in to the 116th Congress during a ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
At age 32, Underwood became the youngest black woman to serve in her capacity.
Neuqua Valley High School Principal Robert McBride opened the event, taking time to recognize guests and elected officials. Among those at the ceremony were Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico; Underwood’s parents; and Ruben Castillo, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Underwood took to the stage to be sworn in during the event in front of her supporters. She also gave remarks during the ceremony, speaking to the reasons why she decided to run for Congress.
“It was the lessons that I learned in this place in Naperville, here, in the 14th District in Illinois that gave me the courage to act and to do the right thing,” she said. “For me, that call came when it was about health care.”
Underwood gave credit to her experience at Neuqua Valley for molding her.
“This place nurtured my development, it shaped my passion for service and prepared me for the journey,” she said.
Underwood thanked the crowd, saying she is eager to represent everyone in the 14th Congressional District. She also touted her first legislative actions, which includes House Resolution 6, a set of draft provisions aimed at combating sexual harassment and misconduct.
Despite snow in the forecast, the event drew in a number of Underwood’s supporters.
The ceremony was regarded as historic by many, including Neuqua Valley High School student Edna Berhane.
“When I first heard that Lauren Underwood was running for Congress, I was immediately excited,” she said. “I was so happy to see another person that looks like me running for Congress and that can be another voice for our community.”
Berhane said being represented by an elected official who desires to understand and speak to the issues constituents face is important. She said Underwood is doing her part “giving a voice to those who aren’t always heard.”