An all-women's college helped Nancy Pelosi "go from the kitchen to the Congress," even though the House speaker told female graduates Saturday that raising five children best prepared her to be a leader in Congress.

Speaking at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., the San Francisco-based representative recalled how despite being involved in politics her entire life, she never intended to seek public office until 1987, when she was recruited to run for the vacant seat. She said she prayed over the decision, worried most about her youngest child, Alexandra, who at the time was in her last year in high school.

Her daughter told her to "get a life," so she said she did.

After being elected to the Democratic leadership team 14 years later, Pelosi recounted how she went to the White House for a meeting as the first female leader, and was greeted by the "ever-gracious" President George W. Bush.

Pelosi also used the commencement address to extol the health care bill signed into law earlier this year, calling it her "proudest achievement in Congress."

"The morning after the bill passed the House, President Obama called me to say he was happier than the day he was elected. I told him, 'Mr. President, I'm very happy, but not happier than the day you were elected. Because if you hadn't been elected, this day would have never happened,'" she said.

Because of the new law, "no longer is being a woman a pre-existing medical condition," Pelosi added.

She said the law is great for students because it allows them to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old and it provides additional student loan aid.