By Stephanie Valentin
When I was much younger, I wasn’t educated about or too interested in “politics.” It was in the year 2016 that I realized how many opinions of my own I did have based on my beliefs I’ve developed as a growing teenager. I didn’t know anything about Donald J. Trump at the time, but it wasn’t long before I learned about his history, and what he was striving for as a candidate for the 2016 presidential election. Up until Election Day, I laughed at this man, thinking to myself that there’s no way America will vote him into office. Although I couldn’t vote at the time as a 16 year-old, I had faith in who the country would choose.
I’ll never forget how I felt the morning after Trump’s win for the presidential election was announced. I was confused, and hurt. I felt blindsided by the country. With each following year of Trump’s presidency, the country has become increasingly divided. My friends and I predicted the harm that has been inflicted on many communities in this country, which is why I looked forward to finally being able to exercise my right to vote. I am no longer a 16 year-old girl who didn’t know much about politics. I am a strong, 20 year-old woman who is educated on my beliefs and determined to contribute to a step in the right direction for everyone in this country.
This Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, I voted for president for the first time. It felt empowering to feel as though I had a voice that I didn’t have before, especially in what could be considered one of the most controversial elections in history.
Something I noticed as I was leaving the voting site was a new layer of determination and pride within myself. Voting has made me feel closer to the millions of other people who have been voting for their rights for years, as well as other first-time presidential voters like myself. While I have been standing for certain communities and movements for years now, this feels like the loudest way I have been able to say “I’m here for myself, my family, and everyone else in this country who hasn’t been heard for too long.”