BY KARLYNN WELLS CLEVELAND
PUBLISHED 6:30 PM ET SEP. 28, 2021
CLEVELAND — Case Western Reserve University students Sabrina Wicker and Phuong Nguyen took charge when it came to being civically engaged. They spent National Voter Registration Day in one of the campus’s student centers, helping other students register to vote, explaining the ins and outs of the process and helping others understand the importance of voting. “We have things and people saying, ‘Why should I care about elections? Why should I vote?’ And it goes back to that same idea of you have the ability to make change to benefit your life or the lives of others around you. So why not do it,” Wicker said.
Wicker and Nguyen are Democracy Fellows with the Campus Vote Project, a national organization that works with universities, colleges, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting.
Nguyen faces a barrier when it comes to voting in the United States. She can’t vote because she isn’t a U.S. citizen. She said it’s actually something that motivates her to help others realize how much of a privilege it is to head to the polls.
“It’s different from other people. I think it's just something that motivates me even more to do something like this,” Nguyen said.
Kelly Schmidt oversees the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning at Case Western and said students have been responsive, mostly because they’re interacting with their peers.
“So spreading their knowledge of what they know in their passion to their peers that are like, going through the same things in school is really, I think, the biggest way to spread that information on why it's important and why other students should get involved,” Schmidt said.
Nguyen said young people bring something to the vote.
“We make voting, like, colorful and interesting, carrying the young energy, it's just way better and I think that's why me and Sabrina is fitted for the position,” Nguyen said.
The students said that they are excited to see more younger people get involved in politics, especially local politics. They are using today as an opportunity to share information about local issues and Cleveland’s upcoming mayoral election.
“I will be living here for the next 4 years,” Wicker said. “I know recently, you know, there's been a lot of talk about things like racial injustice or COVID-19. This is the place that I will live into the next four years, so electing a mayor that represents what I believe in regards to those policies is very important because this is my home.”
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