Yesenia Licona is using her experience, passion, and artistic prowess to help get the word out in her community about filling out the U.S. Census and to vote in the November presidential elections.

Born in Mexico, when Yesenia became a naturalized citizen, she couldn’t wait to vote and have her voice counted in things that mattered to her. That is why it has become her passion to make sure others in her Midway-area neighborhood make their voices count, too. When One Summer Chicago announced an online art exhibition, Yesenia, who is an avid artist thanks to her mom’s influence, submitted a painting of a sunflower. Then, when she heard that help was needed to encourage young people to fill out the U.S. Census, she got to work.

“I thought about the iconic image of Uncle Sam, which is such a part of U.S. culture, and wanted to transform that idea to speak to a younger, more diverse population. So I painted a woman in a similar pose, wearing traditional Mexican floral shirt – it is a nod to living with your culture, but looking to the future. The words ‘you count’ are highlighted because my generation really does count, and we need to take action before we lose school funding and other kinds of representation. We need to make our voices clear and loud, and I hope my painting will inspire that,” explained Yesenia.

Active in her community, the Daley College alumna graduated this spring with her Associate in Arts Degree, and will start pre-law and psychology classes at DePaul University. After years of seeing lawyers help her parents and others in their community on the road to citizenship and beyond, Yesenia was inspired to make a difference, too. She has already taken a class at John Marshall Law School and shadowed attorneys in both Cook and Kane County. Once she earns her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue her law degree as well.

If you haven’t completed your Census, visit my2020census.gov now to do so. Ready to enroll in City Colleges of Chicago and pursue your passion? Visit ccc.edu/apply to apply now.

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