Who Is Chelsea Clinton?
Born on February 27, 1980, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Chelsea Clinton spent part of her youth as a public figure as the daughter of President Bill Clinton and future Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She attended Stanford University and went to Columbia for an MPH before becoming an NBC News correspondent in 2011, a position she held for just shy of three years. She is an advocate for women’s rights, AIDS research and global humanitarianism.
Background and Early Life
Public figure Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born on February 27, 1980, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her name was chosen based on the classic Joni Mitchell song "Chelsea Morning." At the time of her birth, father William Jefferson Clinton was serving his first term in office as the governor of Arkansas. Chelsea's mother, attorney Hillary Rodham Clinton, was a partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. Despite their hectic schedules, the Clintons made their only child the center of their busy lives. Chelsea's father kept a small desk for his daughter in his office and had breakfast with her every morning. Hillary interrupted her schedule to talk to Chelsea when she came home from school, helped out on class field trips and frequently left loving messages at Forest Park Elementary School for Chelsea while she was away on business.
Determined to foster independence and intellectual curiosity, the Clintons often pushed Chelsea hard to succeed. The precocious girl began studying ballet at the age of 4, skipped the third grade, and learned how to invest in the stock market when she was barely 11. After reading an article in a life sciences class that discussed the detrimental effects red meat has on the body, Chelsea also became a strict vegetarian.
Living at the White House
But Chelsea, who was used to being shielded from her parents' very public jobs, experienced a huge life change in 1993, when her father was elected the 42nd President of the United States. As the pre-teen child of the new First Family, Chelsea experienced intense media scrutiny. Entering an awkward, adolescent phase of her life didn't help matters, and the young Clinton often endured jokes about her appearance. As a result of the intense publicity, the Clintons developed an unspoken pact with the press that Chelsea was strictly off limits.
Outside of the White House, Chelsea's parents encouraged her to live as normal a life as possible. She attended Sidwell Friends School, where she excelled in history and science, and began taking ballet courses at the Washington School of Ballet. During her teenage years, she was so active and involved—pursuing a role in the Model United Nations, practicing for theater and ballet performances, and even attending math camp—that she reportedly earned the Secret Service code name "Energy." In April 1995, Chelsea made what some called a "debut" to the national media, when she joined her mother on a tour of India. The press gave her positive reviews and made special note of her intelligence and compassion.
College Years and Studying Abroad
In 1997, Chelsea made the decision to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with the intention of studying pre-med. Now an adult, she became a frequent topic in the press, who made headlines out of her romantic relationships with fellow student Matthew Pierce, as well as former White House intern Jeremy Kane. In addition to this pressure, her sophomore year was fraught with complications from the news of her father's affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. It was during this time that she brought the family together, both publicly and privately. According to her mother's memoirs, Chelsea was present during the meeting in which her father and his advisers debated how to acknowledge his affair with the nation. When her parents were first seen together again after the news, Chelsea was there as well, symbolically clasping the hands of both parents in public.
While navigating these tricky social matters, Clinton also managed a rigorous school schedule. In her junior year, Clinton changed her major from medicine to history and began work on her thesis project: the Northern Ireland peace process (for which she interviewed, among other sources, her father). After delivering her 167-page thesis, Clinton headed to Oxford University in England to pursue a master's degree in International Relations.
Personal and Professional Life
In 2003, after graduation, Clinton joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in New York City, becoming the youngest person in her class to be hired. After three years with the firm, she joined the hedge fund Avenue Capital Group.
After a year of campaigning for her mother's 2008 presidential bid, Chelsea decided to explore new avenues in her personal and professional life. In November 2009, Clinton announced that she and investment banker Marc Mezvinsky were engaged to be married. Mezvinsky, who was a longtime friend, fellow Stanford alum and son of two former members of Congress, proposed over the Thanksgiving holiday. The next month, Clinton returned to school, this time studying health policy and management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Clinton and Mezvinsky were married on July 31, 2010, in Rhinebeck, New York. The 400-person ceremony at the exclusive Astor Courts facility was shrouded in secrecy for months before the wedding—the couple even shut down the airspace above Rhinebeck for the 12 hours surrounding the ceremony to avoid an influx of paparazzi.
In 2011, Clinton joined NBC as a special correspondent. During her tenure with the network she reported a series of stories about "Making a Difference." She left the network in August 2014 to focus on her family and her father's foundation.
In April 2014, Chelsea announced she was pregnant at an event she was attending with her mother for the Clinton Foundation's "No Ceilings: The Full Participation" Project in New York. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” Clinton said at the event.
Her mother added that she was "really excited" about the news of her first grandchild.
Clinton and Mezvinsky announced the birth of their baby daughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky on September 27, 2014. The family welcomed son Aidan Clinton Mezvinsky on June 18, 2016 and son Jasper Clinton Mezvinsky on July 22, 2019.
In addition to serving as vice chairperson for her father's Clinton Foundation, the former first daughter is also on the board of the School of American Ballet.
Campaigning for Hillary
Having previously served as a New York senator and U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton announced her second run for the U.S. presidency in 2015, eventually running in the primaries against Senator Bernie Sanders. Chelsea appeared on the campaign trail for her mother over the ensuing months in states like New Hampshire and Nevada. In July 2016, Hillary became the official Democratic nominee for the American presidency, becoming the first woman in the U.S. to win a major political party's presidential nomination.
On the final night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Chelsea introduced her mother to delegates before Hillary accepted her party's nomination in a keynote speech. "That feeling of being valued and loved, that's what my mom wants for every child," Chelsea said, calmly speaking of her mom as a driven, tenacious spirit—a recurring theme of the convention speeches—who encouraged curiosity, learning and open discussion for her daughter.
Chelsea continued to be a champion of her mother on the campaign trail, and tweeted about her support in an emotional tweet on election day.
However, the Clintons were rocked in a stunning defeat when Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016. After one of the most contentious presidential races in U.S. history, Trump's stunning victory defied pre-election polls and was considered a resounding rejection of establishment politics by blue-collar and working class Americans.
After her mother's loss, Chelsea Clinton made a habit of resurfacing in the news to support other offspring of current and former presidents. In August 2017, responding to one reporter's criticism of 11-year-old Barron Trump's choice of clothing, Clinton took to Twitter to declare "It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."
Clinton was back at it again in November to defend Barack Obama's older daughter, Malia. In this case, a conservative site claimed that Malia, a former intern to disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, was being questioned in an FBI probe. “Loathsome. Just loathsome,” Clinton tweeted. “Please leave Malia alone to lead her own life & keep her out of your (shameful) agenda!”
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