Yolian Ogbu: "Civic education is key"
Yolian Ogbu serves as an Intern for IGNITE National, a non-profit dedicated to building political ambition in young women, an Ambassador for Bridge the Divide, an organization focused on eliminating exclusive divisiveness in politics, a NextGen Ambassador for UNICEF, and as a Field Operative for Lilian Salerno, TX-32. If her current resume wasn’t impressive enough, the City of Frisco also dedicated a proclamation to Ogbu, calling it “Yolian Ogbu Day”, in honor of her successful leadership throughout her community. She even has her very own website! Ogbu uses her status as a successful public figure in Texas to advocate for accessible civic education, an essential resource she believes is lacking among the youth in her community.
Ogbu’s family immigrated from Eritrea, a country located in East Africa, to the United States where they laid roots in Frisco, Texas. Growing up as the daughter of immigrants, Ogbu remembers learning about African and Middle Eastern politics in areas such as Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Foreign policy was so important to Ogbu that in 4th grade, she recounts writing about the civil war between her family’s home country of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It was the first time that she dived into politics, so much so that she fell in love with it. By the time she had entered high school, Ogbu began focusing her studies on domestic policy as a component of joining the debate team. During her first debate tournament, Ogbu recalls having to write a short case about seeing democracy in action. With her knowledge of both foreign and domestic policy, Ogbu chose to compare the negative differences between totalitarian government, a style of governing commonly seen in third-world countries, and democracy. Upon cross-examination, another student remarked that Ogbu had been “worked up”, saying “it’s not that big of a deal.” Ogbu snapped back, as the daughter of a family who had sacrificed everything in search of the promises in American democracy, sharing with the student that they would never know what it’s like. From that moment on, she knew she was destined to become involved in politics. When Ogbu first realized she wanted to enter the political field, she had no idea of how. She knew her interests were in healthcare, gender equality, and education but she didn’t know how to start. She began to sharpen her knowledge of different policies and create arguments for the line-items she felt most passionate about. She began working with her local American Legion and American Auxiliary, both chapters for a nationwide entity that supports veterans of the Armed Forces. From there, Ogbu began working with the Frisco City Council, helping her to reach a further audience of people interested in her policy cases. She even competed in a nationwide oratorical contest, with the support of her City Council, where she spoke about the importance of the Constitution. Now that she is a college student, Ogbu has yet again expanded her horizons by advocating for political parity of women, particularly women who represent a wide spectrum of intersectionality. Ogbu says “the key” to political parity is civic education. She loves pushing women to become involved in government by, first, seeking civic education in their field of interest. Ogbu said, “I don’t see a woman like me [in office] yet, but one day, I could.” Ogbu plans to finish her undergraduate education at the University of North Texas with aspirations to attend law school following graduation. She hopes to use her education to become a public servant and become more involved in Texas politics. For now, she will continue writing about her experiences regarding political divisiveness and equality.