U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords ’93 will give the commencement address at Scripps College on Sunday, May 17, 2009. Giffords, a 1993 graduate of Scripps, represents the Eighth District of Arizona, a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114 mile border with Mexico.
Giffords has a series of impressive firsts: she is the first woman to represent Arizona in Congress in more than a decade, the first Democrat to win the Tucson-area district in more than 20 years — and the first Scripps College alumna elected to national office.
She is also Arizona’s first Jewish female representative, the youngest woman to be elected to the Arizona State Senate, and only the third woman in Arizona to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
As a student at Scripps College, Giffords studied Latin American history and sociology. After graduation, she spent a year in Chihuahua, Mexico, as a Fulbright Scholar. She later attended Cornell University, to earn her master’s degree in regional planning, and an executive program at Harvard University.
The self-described moderate pro business Democrat returned to hometown Tucson in 1996 to become president and CEO of her family’s tire and automotive business. Later, combining her entrepreneurial experience and an interest in national and international economic development, Giffords launched a career in politics.
A third generation Arizonan, Giffords represented her hometown of Tucson in the Arizona Legislature from 2000-2005. During her service in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Giffords worked on legislation to expand health care coverage for Arizona families; to create and attract high wage jobs to Arizona; and to protect Arizona’s environment and open spaces. She served on the Appropriations, Commerce and Economic Development and Finance Committees.
Currently, Giffords serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Miliary Readiness, the House Science and Technology Committee, the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
Experienced in international relations, Giffords was president of the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders, represented the National Committee on China-U.S. Relations as a Young Leader’s Forum Fellow, and was a German Marshall Fund Manfred-Worner Fellow. In 2005, Giffords was selected for the inaugural two-year class of the Aspen-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. She was also recently named one of America’s Eight Young Leaders Worth Watching by Gannett News Service.