You never forget your first time — and that is especially true when it comes to the first time you vote.
"It was such a big deal for me. During election time, I will go to different Nigerian functions. In our culture we call anyone older than you an 'auntie' or an 'uncle.' I will have different aunties and uncles come up to me and they'll say, 'You're gonna vote, right?' When I went into that voting booth, I wasn't voting for myself. I was voting for my aunties and my uncles and people who can't vote, for whatever reason."
She continued, "And I remember after I voted, I went straight to a Nigerian market and I completely forgot I had on the 'I voted' sticker. When I walked in there, three of my aunties were saying, 'Give me the sticker, give me the sticker.' And I was just like, 'I don't know who to give it to.' And I ended up giving it to one, and she's like, 'I voted, I voted' ... I swear that auntie had on that 'I Voted' sticker and she was telling everyone the story, 'I voted,' and I was like 'Auntie, you did not vote.' But I let her have her moment."
The Nigerian-born professor, political analyst, and entrepreneur, who also served as the Director of Family and Community Engagement for President Barack Obama's antipoverty initiative, DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, shared that she values voting because, as she explained, "Well, for my family we know that voting is not a right that is given. It is a right that is earned. I think that when you're an immigrant and you come to this country, you really see people who are looking at voting as something they have the option to opt into or opt out of. When you come from a county that has had history of ethnic rivalry, that has had history of political disruption, you know that voting and that the ability to select your elected officials is at the footrest of why your country is the way she is."
Wendy also spoke about how she's inspiring that sense of democracy with her kids at an early age.
"For me, as an immigrant, it's never optional. Even right now with my kids, I have three kids, 7, 5, and 14 months. My 7 and 5-year-old, they participate in a mock election. We have a countdown in my house, a calendar that says this is how many days until the election. So I want them to know this is not an option for them," she said. "I want them to know that their mom and dad knows how important this is and that's really important for my family."
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