Hofstra Votes

The First Time I Voted

Everybody remembers their first time voting. Below, members of the Hofstra community share their first-time voting stories. Share yours on social media using #HofstraVotes or email social[at]hofstra.edu.


I was one of the students who got a ticket into the debate hall in 2016. It was amazing. But I didn’t realize at the time what it meant to actually be there and listen to the candidates until I got to the voting booth and realized I could actually vote for who I wanted. I understood the issues and my own views. It was really something else.

Manmeet Nijjer ‘20
Criminology, Public Policy and Religion
Sedarhearst, NY

I had just turned 18 and was voting in a local election for my school board. I remember feeling so excited that I knew the names on the ballot. And it made so much sense that I was eligible to vote then because I finally understood the issues. Since then I’ve never missed voting in an election.

Abby Normandin ‘19
Public Policy, Global Studies, Political Science, Civic Engagement
From Franklin, MA


It felt great being able to cast my political voice and have a choice in national decisions. The 2016 election was so historical so to be able to be a voter was incredible. Being on campus for Debate 2016 enhanced the voting experience for me for sure. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Deandra Denton ‘20
Sociology and Public Policy & Public Service

The first time I voted was in Boston in 1971. It was a mayoral race. It mattered to me. I grew up in a time when voting and other forms of civic engagement made you a citizen. I felt a very powerful emotion going in there and pulling the lever. Especially since I was away from home in college and there was nobody to tell me what to do. I was on my own.

Larry Levy
Executive Director, National Center for Suburban Studies

My first time voting was absentee in 2016. Because I was mailing mine in, I had more time to do some research and really think about things before casting my vote. It was also cool to see some local questions on the ballot that were unique to my hometown. Local politics are really where the groundwork is laid.

We have a system in place to let people use their voices. So why not use them?

Tyler Butrica ‘19
TV/Video Production
From Danvers, MA

I grew up in a very politically-active household. My great grandmother was the first female clerk in the Maryland House of Delegates, so I believed from a very young age that voting is our civic duty. It’s just something we need to do. I remember doing a straw poll on my school bus back during the 2000 presidential election cycle. I had a clipboard and ripped piece of paper from my marble notebook. It was serious business.

I was finally able to vote for the first time in the 2012 presidential election cycle. That was a huge election for us considering the debate was held on campus. I was with my suitemates in Enterprise Hall. We all filled out absentee ballots. I definitely felt like I was making a difference. Every voice matters. One vote has the ability to change everything.

Elizabeth Reese ‘13
BFA, Theater Production
Visitor Guide, Architect of the Capitol

I vote because it is one of the most important tools as a citizen to express your opinions and who you want to be in public office. We have the greatest military in the world and it’s because they defend that right for us to vote. This is something sacred. People need to go out and vote and put people in office that they believe will enact positive change.

The first time I voted was in the 2016 presidential election. It was amazing. I felt like, “Wow, I’m actually part of this country and participating in the democratic process.”

Stevens Martinez ‘19
Public Policy and Public Service

I was registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election but messed up the absentee ballot. So I made sure I got it right for 2016! I was 22 and sent my absentee ballot to New Jersey. I was really excited to vote for the first time because I closely followed the candidates leading up to the 2016 election, so being able to contribute to our democracy and exercise my right was truly meaningful. I felt more connected, more involved, and like a true American citizen. I also hope my participation encouraged my peers to vote, as well, because it’s so important that we stay informed, make our voices heard, and cast our votes for who we think will best lead our country.

Briana Smith ’16; ‘17
Journalism Major
News Reporter for Spectrum

I was in Canada the first time I voted. I was a Canadian citizen at the time. It was a federal election in a parliamentary system, which is similar to voting in a local election in the United States. Ultimately, I vote to make a difference. My opinion matters. And the only way to make that opinion matter is by expressing it at the polls.

Mark Lukasiewicz
Dean, Lawrence Herbert School of Communication

I was at Hofstra when I voted for the first time in 2008. I did it with a bunch of friends. When you’re in college, you’re just starting to feel like an adult. So to have a civic duty like voting – it just feels like a very grown up thing to do. I was really involved in that election working for WRHU. I was sent to report from the Republican National Committee (RNC). That really had an impact on me. We are really lucky to be Americans. People don’t always take advantage of being able to express their opinions but I think we’re finally waking up and recognizing the importance of voting – not only in presidential elections, but in our local elections, as well. Being a news anchor and reporting on local politics has really opened my eyes to how important that is.

Amanda Kenney ‘09
Broadcast Journalism
Evening News Anchor, WTAJ News (CBS Affiliate in PA)

My first time voting was the second time in history that a person of color was on the presidential ballot. I felt like this was my opportunity to have a voice and make it count. It was time to stop complaining and take action to make change. There’s very little you can say if you didn’t do your part. It’s our responsibility to make things happen. It’s up to us to make sure we’re choosing the right person to lead and represent us to the world.

Samuel Baah
Resident Director

 I was 18 years old. It was the first time I actually had a say. We made history with the 2016 presidential election, and I just felt empowered and like I had a voice. An issue that is important to me is support for our veterans. I have family members who have served in military and law enforcement.

Lauren Burke ‘20
Accounting
From Levittown, NY

It was really high energy, and everyone was talking about who they voted for. Voting in the 2016 presidential election made me feel I was part of something bigger than myself. I was able to represent people belonging to my heritage, and it sparked a continued interest in politics for me.

Victor Barahona ‘19
Biomedical Engineering
From Brentwood, NY

It felt a little surreal. You could feel the tension in the room but I didn’t fully understand the gravity of it at the time. Prior to voting in the 2016 presidential election, I had teachers who stressed the importance of voting and choosing who is in power. My feeling has always been: if you can make a difference, why not? I just wanted to do my part and vote for the best possible candidate.

Gabe Calderon ‘20
Film Studies and Production
From Trumbull, CT

The first time I voted was in a local election for the Brentwood high school budget. It was important to me because I played lacrosse and baseball there. I wanted to make sure the school had funding for other students to continue to play. I always felt like it was a civic duty of mine, however, I didn’t realize until after I graduated high school just how important it actually is to vote. It’s more than just sports. We need to hold civil servants accountable and make sure money is allocated properly for all educational programs.

Sammy De La Cruz ‘19
Information Technology
From Brentwood, NY