The Washington State Senate passes Senate Resolution 8696, honoring 2016 Republic Day in India, during a Pro Forma Session, January 26th, 2016, the 16th day of the Legislative Session.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — With her 76-year-old mother from India watching from the House gallery, Washington state’s Pramila Jayapal made history Tuesday, becoming the first Indian-American woman to join the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It has been very emotional, thinking about how she and my dad used all of their money to send me away when I was 16 so I could get a good education,” Jayapal said in an interview. “I don’t think that they or I ever had any notion that this might be where I would end up.”

On the opening day of the 115th Congress, Jayapal also became one of five Indian-American members, a record. All of them are Democrats, including three from California. The group has been referred to as the “Indian-American Fab Five.”

“Having five of us here sends a message to Indian-Americans and others across the country that we care deeply about our country and we intend to be engaged,” Jayapal said. “It gives us a natural caucus.”

Jayapal cast her first vote by backing California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. With the GOP once again controlling the House, Pelosi lost to Ryan, but she will keep her position as the Democratic minority leader. In her first remarks on the House floor, Jayapal said she supported Pelosi for the top job “because the people’s House should be ethical, accountable and open to free debate.”

She previously served as a Washington state senator for the past two years. Before that, Jayapal worked as an investment banker on Wall Street, but then switched gears to focus on fighting deportations and hate crimes in Washington state. In 2013, President Barack Obama cited Jayapal as a national “champion of change” for using her immigrant past to inspire others.

Jayapal said she hopes her background now helps her fight President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration proposals, among others.

She’s most concerned with what might happen to issues involving climate change, reproductive rights, health care, Social Security and Medicare over the next four years.

“It’s a very, very important moment in the country’s history,” Jayapal said.

Jayapal has already been elected as a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.