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From the start, and even before the hyphen, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen shattered glass ceilings.

She was the first Hispanic woman elected to the Florida House and Senate, and the first state lawmaker to serve while expecting. She also became the first Cuban-American ever to win a job in the U.S. Congress — a post she’s held onto for nearly 30 years even as her party shifted to the right and her constituency moved to the left.

Perhaps best known as a Cuba hardliner, Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana in 1952 and fled to Miami with her family when she was eight years old. She graduated from Southwest Miami High School and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Florida International University and later a doctorate from the University of Miami.

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