Voting is One of My Powers
I woke up at 5:00 am on March 11, 2022, four hours before my naturalization ceremony at the New Haven Court. It had been six long years to get to this point.
I had conflicted feelings about this moment. I was excited that this process was coming to an end and that I would soon be able to exercise my rights as a United States citizen. At the same time, I reflected on my journey to get here.
When I came to the United States from Peru in 2009, I was only 13 years old and undocumented. There were not as many resources and options available to me as there are now.
I got involved with CT Students for a Dream. I learned the importance of sharing my story and how, even though I could not vote, I had the power to fight for what I dreamed of – including my right to access higher education.
When I received my green card, I got involved in political campaigns, but something was always missing. I could share my experiences and my opinions about candidates, but I could not have a personal impact on the elections.
I have been volunteering to get people to vote for so long, even though I could not vote myself. I shared information through workshops and contacted state residents to ensure they had all the information to vote.
It always seemed that the time for me to vote would never come, and yet here I am – a registered voter. It is a surreal feeling to be this much closer to using my power via my vote.
I had seen democracy at work. My peers and mentors taught me that my voice is powerful through rallies, advocacy and organizing. Yet I always yearned for more.
Voting for the first time feels exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because I can help shape the future of our democracy. Terrifying because I am unsure how much my vote will count.
Regardless of my insecurities, the thing that reassured me was what I learned as an organizer: You must continue to “show up” to see the fruits of your work.
Between January and March of 2022, the US Citizenship & Immigration Services Hartford field office approved 2,692 naturalization applications. All these new citizens will be eligible to participate in the November elections.
These 2,692 people are now part of the fabric of the United States. On November 8, thousands of new citizens have the right to make their voices heard and strengthen our democracy.
Voting is now one of my powers. Won’t you join me to help build the Connecticut we dream of?
Please vote on November 8.
Katia is an intern at Universal. She is pursuing a dual master's in public health and social work at UConn. Katia coordinated the HUSKY 4 Immigrants coalition for two years before attending graduate school.