MAKERS Profile

Mazie Hirono

Senator (D-Hawaii)

In this video

Mazie Hirono, U.S. Senator from Hawaii, shares her story of immigrating to America with her single mother from Japan, learning English, and discovering her knack for politics, first as a campaign manager and eventually as the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate. 
Mazie Hirono currently serves as a United States Senator from Hawaii. She is the first Asian-American woman, the first Buddhist, and the first woman from Hawaii to be elected to the United States Senate.   Born in Fukushima, Japan, Hirono immigrated to Hawaii with her mother at eight years old and without knowing a word of English. In Hawaii, Hirono eventually put herself through the University of Hawaii at Manoa and law school at Georgetown University.   After ten years of running other people's campaigns, Hirono decided it was time to run for office herself. She served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1981 to 1995 and as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002. In 2006, Hirono won the U.S. House of Representative seat for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, which she re-won for three terms.   In May 2011, Hirono announced her candidacy for open Hawaii U.S. Senate seat. With 63% of the vote, Hirono became the first Asian-born immigrant elected to the Senate.

More From Mazie

Starting Off As A Campaign Manager
Hirono shares her path toward politics which began during the Vietnam War as an anti-war activist and took off when she was asked to be her friend's campaign manager.

Learning English in America
Hirono on what it was like learning English as a Japanese immigrant before English As A Second Language courses were the norm.

Reading The Feminine Mystique
Hirono on the impact of reading Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique as a college student and realizing that she needed to have higher expectations for herself.

Dreaming of the Capitol
Hirono remembers walking past the U.S. Capitol as a law student, but never in her wildest dreams thought she' d work there one day.

Patsy Mink, An Inspiration
Hirono on one of her greatest role models, one of the first persons of color elected to Congress, Patsy Mink.

The Creativity of Politics
Hirono shares her view that engaging in politics is a far more creative endeavor than meets the eye.

A Quadruple Threat
Hirono talks about the unique background she brings to the Senate as a female, Asian, Buddhist and immigrant.

Her Rock, Her "Gem"
Hirono talks about marrying later in life and her relationship with her husband who fully supports her political career.

Claim To Fame
Hirono shares that her passion outside of politics lies in ceramics and how one of her pieces of was featured in the Washington Post!