By Saliha Garcia, Digital and Communications Intern
Since a young age, my anticipation to turn 18 could not be contained. I created a list of things that I would do the moment my birthday hit — from buying a lottery ticket to skydiving. The possibilities seemed endless. At the top of my list was going out to vote. The mere act itself sparked so much interest in me as the idea that my vote could completely change the outcome of who would become my local representative or even the president brought so much excitement. I felt important.
As the years have passed, I have seen this excitement surrounding voting that many of my friends and I shared cease to shine. Hearing others say that my vote isn’t as valuable as I believed, or that going out to vote won’t truly make a change really hit me as I began to wonder what the point of it all was.
Slowly, voting became a chore rather than something enjoyable. During the pandemic, I began working with a non-partisan, non-profit organization that focused on educating young people on civic leadership and engagement. Rapidly, the spark came back as I realized that active and collective efforts do make a difference and can bring on change. Those comments I had once heard about voting not being important or that change never coming slowly began to fade, as I started seeing how movements, organizations, and people like you and me were able to bring on change even at times when there was little hope.
This marked the start of my journey towards becoming a changemaker, by seeking organizations that shared these same values and goals. Empowering young people to create change not only at the local level but state-wide. This past summer the overturning of Roe v. Wade showcased an enormous setback for social justice, reproductive freedoms, and human rights. However, all this fear sparked much hope as youth mobilization has grown stronger and come together to push for legislation and representation that prevents something like this from happening again.
As time passed, I realized voting was just the beginning. My involvement in research, advocacy, and civic education has truly given me the tools to help and motivate others to the fact that change really can happen when we all come together. The thrill of voting is within all of us, and even though it might have lost some of its sparks, it is never too late to reignite that fire within whether it be by getting involved in organizations or just pushing our friends to come out to vote with us.
Even through hardships and downfalls, together we stand strong.