You're my first female member of Congress. A woman has never served as a Representative for my congressional district, and the last time Illinois had a female Senator was 1999 -- the year I was born.
Until now, I'd never had a person elected on the federal level who shared my gender. I watched the fights over Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act from a distance, too young to vote, hoping the men elected on my behalf would make the right decisions for women.
You were good news on Tuesday night. The only Senate seat to switch from red to blue, from a state in a sea of red electoral votes. I'm proud of the way my state voted, but it might not be enough for the next four years. I'm scared for what new gun policies might mean for violence in Chicago, and what education laws may mean for public schools. I'm worried about my classmates and neighbors who have pre-existing medical conditions. I don't know what will happen to the refugee kids I tutor, my LGBT friends, my Muslim friends, my black friends.
That uncertainty--rather than outright dread--exists because of people like you. When I was advocating for the Girls Count Act, I dropped in on your DC office with a group of girls from Illinois. You were on the Congress floor for a vote, but the energy of the two women staffing your office was tangible. We were genuinely listened to, which, as high school-aged girls on Capitol Hill, was a rarity.
It may be hard, but I need you to continue to fight for us, like you did then. I'm putting faith in the women who won, and the elected men who support them. On Wednesday, Secretary Clinton told the girls of our country to "never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams." That happens when we are represented. You are our representation now, and I hope others will follow.