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A Nation Engaged: UWM Students Reflect on Being Americans

Marti Mikkelson
Students gather at the UWM Union.

How would you answer the question: “What does it mean, to be an American?” NPR and member stations across the country have fanned-out this week, to ask people that question, with less than a month remaining until the November 8th election. In Milwaukee, WUWM’s Keio Horton visited the UWM campus to ask students for their perspectives on being Americans, and what they’d like, from the next president.

“My name is Tony Leuck. What it means to be an American to me is to be yourself, be who you are and embrace that. Because here in America is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Being yourself and acknowledging the diversity is very important to being an American.”

What could the next president do to advance your vision?

“Try to bring as many people together as possible. Be the driving force behind our camaraderie or our unifying beliefs. Be that person to be like “we’re one nation, we’re one body, and we’re all in this together," Leuck says.

“I’m Ruby Huntoon and I believe to be an American means being proud of where you come from and embracing the differences between everybody in the United States.”

“My name is Micaila Ingram, and why I think it means to be an American is be yourself, be welcome and not being forced to conform to someone else’s ways and views.”

What could the next president do to advance your vision?

“I think the next president could advance my visions by being open to differences among people, being more diplomatic, looking for me even ground rather than sticking to one hard and fast decision and overall being somewhat open minded when considering other views,” Huntoon says.

“The way the next president help my vision would be more welcoming. We are a nation formed by immigrants that came from different places because their original countries weren’t welcoming of their views and values. I think as the United States of America, the fact that we’re called a melting pot, we should be more accepting. If the next president can’t do that for me than I don’t know,” Ingram says.

“My name is Shane Summers and, to me, what it means to be an American is the freedom of expression. The next president can advance my vision by appointing Supreme Court justices that protect the First Amendment that protects the freedom of expression and the freedom of speech.”

"My name is Anwar Floyd-Pruitt. Being an American means having a certain type of privilege. I know we all have different privileges across the various groups in the United States. But the United States of America, we have it really good, even people that have it the worst of us are probably not having it the worst of the world.”

What could the next president do to advance your vision?

“I don’t know that the next president can do much. My belief about politics is really that, its grassroots efforts that going to make the biggest changes. I don’t really think that top down policy can really have the greatest effect,” Floyd-Pruitt says.

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