U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA) shared the story of how education paved a pathway to success in her life with The Century Foundation’s Danny Weiss. She also discussed what can be done in Congress to improve education and job training, as well as the benefits of diversity in the Democratic Caucus.

Read a full transcript of the conversation with Representative Trahan below.

Representative Lori Trahan: We are so much stronger because of our diversity, because somebody is thinking about something that I could never have thought of on my own.

Danny Weiss, The Century Foundation: Why are you so passionate about education?

Trahan: Education was what put me on the path I’m on today. I got a volleyball scholarship to attend Georgetown University and I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I actually compare that story, or contrast that story, with that of my husband, who went to the Greater Louisville vocational technical school, and he studied drafting, and now is a home builder. I think we both represent a very different path to the American Dream, but the American dream nonetheless. I think we have to make practical paths of education as noble as we do college education, we need to close our skills gap, and I think that there’s lots of ways that we can do that, whether it’s making college more affordable, funding our community colleges to where they need to be, investing in apprenticeships and vocational programs. I mean, those are those are the things that are going to help families like the one I grew up in.

Weiss: What’s your message to young people today?

“We need young people across the country to be engaged, and to participate, and to lead.”

Trahan: My message to young people is that they’ve always been our country’s greatest asset, whether it’s leading social movements, disrupting traditional thinking, starting businesses big and small, or valiantly serving our country, our young people are our future and it’s what gives us hope. So we need young people across the country to be engaged, and to participate, and to lead. I tell folks all the time, young people in my district all the time, I want you by my side as we tackle and solve some of these problems. In fact, I need you by my side.

Weiss: What’s your headline of the future, Congresswoman Trahan?

Trahan: My headline of the future is: Massachusetts: A Model for the Future of Workforce Training and Development