“I didn’t have a voice per se at all for 10 years, but finally being able to participate was just exciting,” she said. “I took a selfie, sent it to my mom. And my stepdad — who’s American — said, 'I’m so proud of you, you exercised your right.'”
Even though Cochrane was excited to vote, she said she and her mom had to convince her sister to exercise her right as a new citizen.
“We talked to her individually about how a lot of people aren’t represented, and a lot of people don’t have the chance to vote that do live here, so if she’s able to actually do it, she should use that right and exercise her duty as a citizen,” Cochrane said.
No one had to convince junior Suvrat Jhamb. As he lined up to vote at Chapel of the Cross for his first midterm election, he said he was thankful his friends came out to vote with him.
“I know that one vote maybe won’t make a difference, but it’s the combined group effort, like going out with your friends to go vote is what’s really going to make a difference,” he said.
Seeking more opportunities for their children in the United States than in their native India, Jhamb’s parents brought him over when he was 4 years old.
“I know that all my friends and I that have gotten to vote can definitely make a difference and change the course of where everyone’s headed right now,” he said.
Nury Schoning, 54, said she signed up to vote near her home in Winston-Salem with the help of a women’s voter association immediately after she became a citizen last month.
“When they gave us the form I filled it out right away," she said. "I was almost the first one giving it to them. I really wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to vote, I was excited — I was excited, that after 22 years, to finally have a voice.”
Schoning is originally from Venezuela, but lived in Canada for 10 years before moving to the United States. She said voting in the United States felt exciting because it took so long to become a citizen compared to Canada.
“There, you just do a written test that’s like a hundred questions, and then if you pass the test right away they do the swear-in ceremony on the same day,” she said.
Being from Venezuela, which has had recent political turmoil and corruption, Schoning said she feels strongly about changing the country for the better.
“I never thought that would happen to a country like Venezuela with so much educated people and oil,” she said. “I’m not saying the United States can get there, but I think that we all need to get involved, and that’s the beauty of the United States — that we all have a voice.”
Schoning said the United States, as it is today, isn't the country she wants to live in. She said she wants to pitch in her little grain of sand getting involved in the political process to change it.
“Who am I to complain?" she said. "If I don’t even make the effort to go vote or make the effort to become an American so I can vote, I don’t have any right to complain, if I’m not doing anything to make any changes.”