After her historic win, Jahana Hayes sat down with NBC Connecticut as she prepares to represent the state’s 5th Congressional District.
First up is getting used to being called “congresswoman-elect.”
“Crazy, when I heard it for the first time this morning, it just sunk on me. Wow. Still processing it,” said Hayes.
On Tuesday, the Democrat beat Republican Manny Santos for the seat.
“I think this 116th Congress is going to be tremendous. I think we’re going to have some very difficult conversations in a very robust way with people who have very different perspectives than what has been there,” Hayes said.
Hayes is set to become the state’s first black congresswoman.
This has been a whirlwind 24 hours for the political newcomer including returning an overwhelming number of congratulation messages. She said some of the most touching were sent by former students.
“It works and it happens, we can do the same thing. So, seeing those kinds of texts I think are more important than even from members, and congress people or legislators. But when young girls are saying maybe, I could try.”
Inspiring younger generations is nothing new for this 2016 National Teacher of the Year. Now she’s preparing to leave her current job with Waterbury Public Schools.
“The city has been so incredibly supportive of me. That’s going to be a difficult conversation but advocating in a different way,” she said.
It’s been an extraordinary path for Hayes who grew up in a housing project and then went on to graduate from universities with advanced degrees.
Now she’s ready to head to Washington, D.C., and will bring lessons she picked up on the campaign trail.
“I refused to go in a negative direction and wasn’t sure how that would work. So l learned that it does work and it can work and just be the change you wish to see.”
Hayes tells us sometimes you have to do what’s right, even if it’s not popular. Now she wants to get to work on issues such as school safety and healthcare.