Chicago high schooler Kiara Jones cast her first vote for Obama.
Kiara Jones, a senior at Chicago's St. Ignatius College Prep, is not quite sure what she wants to be when she grows up, but one thing she's supremely certain of is the critical need for all Americans to participate in the democratic process.
Kiara doesn't come from a particularly politically active family, but they definitely exercise their right to vote. Able to do so for the first time this year, Kiara took First Lady Michelle Obama's pleas to supporters to vote early for President Obama and then spend the rest of the days leading up to Election Day encouraging others to head to the polls.
"It was so exciting because it's an historical moment and I am so happy and honored to be able to be a part of it," Kiara told BET.com, as the crowd in the city's McCormack Convention Center roared each time Obama was declared the winner of a state.
"This election is important to me because as a senior I look forward to attending college in the fall and I also look forward to receiving financial aid because my family isn't able to pay for college completely without any assistance," she said. "So I am very grateful to Obama for being able to help students like me who want a quality education and helping us achieve that."
Kiara has been volunteering for Obama since he was a U.S. Senator and she was only 12 years old. She spent last weekend in Wisconsin, helping his presidential campaign get out the vote in the key battleground state.
"I told them that this is an opportunity for them to partake in what makes this country great — democracy. We all have the right to vote and we should all exercise that right. I just encourage everyone to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity," she said.
She also is doubly proud — as an American and a Chicagoan — of the first African-American family to rule the White house and is inspired by their success.
"The Obama family has been a major inspiration for all children, especially children like myself, who are growing up in Chicago and see people from here become something so wonderful and so great and so amazing," Kiara said. "They're able to inspire us all and open the doors for young people like me to be successful in the future."
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(Photo: Courtesy of Kiara Jones)