The Importance of Civic Engagement

Election fatigue? Just a short one. I promise you will like this.

Nikki Shonoiki is a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Riverfalls where she is politically engaged. Nikki serves in the Pierce County District 6 (Wisonsin) as the youngest (and first supervisor to serve her district who was elected under the age of 21). She is also the only female and the first Black female to serve on the county board and sits on  5 committees. I will be interviewing her shortly, so watch this space on this bright star. Nikki whose parents are from Nigeria was born in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

Published below, in her own words, is her political awakening. I realized how important voting is when my best friend’s mom told me that rights could be taken away from people with a simple yes or no vote. Of course the same yes or no vote can give rights to individuals that don’t currently have them. I knew growing up, that elections happened every so often and I witnessed my parents going to their respective polling places and casting their ballots, but I never took time to recognize how important voting is.

I grow up civically disengaged for the most part, although my dad would mention having to go and vote from time to time, I didn’t pay it much mind. The first political race that I paid any attention to was Bush vs. Gore and the main reason I remember this race was because I had taken my first Political Science course. In this course we analyzed the elections and I began to formulate my own political views and assert my own values by taking sides on issues from welfare to global warming. I started asking my family what their political views were and found out that my family voted Democratic 95 percent of the time. I too consider myself a liberal, left-winger Democrat and if I was given the chance in 2000 I would have voted for Gore.

I stopped being involved in politics until Fall 2006 when I transferred to UW-River Falls. In 2006 there was an important referendum being voted on that would ban Civic Union benefits not only for Homosexuals but also for Hetero couples who chose not to be formally married. I thought certain people shouldn’t be prevented from having the same rights as everyone else just because of who they are so I helped a local organization called Fair Wisconsin fight the ban. Another way I chose to be civically engaged is by running for County Board in 2008. After winning my election I knew first hand how important voting is, and how important it is to hold those you elect accountable.

November 4th, 2008 was the first presidential election I’ve voted in and I felt more obligated then ever to vote because of what was at stake. Since I turned 18 years old I’ve voted in every election that I could because I think it’s our obligation as citizens to vote and make sure were making an educated one at that!


5 thoughts on “The Importance of Civic Engagement

  1. Nikki is a shining beacon of hope. She is an inspiration, and her insight into the world of politics is something to behold. Black, white, asian, or native american… Nikki makes all all want to grow into something she has already become: a true leader.

  2. Nikki is an amazing young woman. She is smart, goofy, personable. She is someone I’d like to see leading us into a brighter future for our young generation. Nikki has helped push for diversity on our campus, because we’re in a severe deficit. Shse makes me proud of being one of the few women of color on my campus, she is empowerment to us all.

    I ❤ you Temi-Tayo! 🙂

  3. It’s great to see the youth in America immerse themselves into politics after being on the sidelines for so long. Nikki’s great experience is sure to inspire her peers to learn more about civic engagement. Way to go Nikki!

  4. Shoinoki! I am so proud to call Nikki, not only a fellow student but also my friend. I know she has so much to give to our generation and this is just the beginning of what she is capable of. I wish her all of the success in the world. She is a true leader and a great friend!

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