The 2016 presidential election will go down in history as the time that Latinos became political game-changers. Not only are Latinos more politically involved than ever before — some are actually on the front-lines in this historic election. 

While working in political circles is fun and exciting, for others, volunteering to ensure Latinos vote isn't just to enrich their careers, but more so because their life depends on it. 

In North Carolina, a battleground state where 42 million people have already voted, we met a few Latinos that have been working every day, some for more than a year, to make sure Hillary Clinton becomes our next president. Here's why they've been dedicating themselves to Clinton's campaign.

Irene Godínez, North Carolina Latinx Vote Director

Irene Godínez, North Carolina Latinx Vote Director
photo: Irene Godínez

Vivala: What made you want to work for the Clinton campaign?

Irene Godínez: In a way, it was my conscience. I knew I would not be able to look at my daughter and my nieces in the eyes if I didn't give my all to this campaign and to my state. I love North Carolina, and have worked in various areas of social justice here. I felt I'd be able to make significant contributions through the professional and grassroots networks I've been privileged to make over the course of my career that would help us turn North Carolina blue.

The night I chose to step up was the night Trump accepted the nomination from his party. Everything about the RNC painted a bleak picture and one that is clearly using fear and intimidation to drive turnout. I choose hope and that's why I chose to work on the Clinton campaign.

Vivala: Did you have any expectations before you started working on this campaign?

IG: When I accepted the position of NC Latinx Vote Director, I had a 3-month-old, and I knew there'd be many challenges not only because of the grueling campaign schedule, but also because I'm still learning how to be a parent. It really has been a family sacrifice, but there's no way I'd be able to do this without the support of my super committed husband and my loving village of family and friends.

Vivala: What's been the biggest highlight so far?

IG: There are so many highlights! Everything from registering voters while waiting in line for Selena MAC makeup, to seeing 8-year-old kids step up to volunteer by serving water to event attendees, to witnessing the delight of a 104-year-old woman hearing President Obama speak, to dressing my baby up as baby Hillary Clinton — pantsuit and all — for Halloween and going to vote as a family. It has also been very gratifying connecting Latino surrogates like Rita Moreno and Eva Longoria with my community in this state and hearing why they're supporting la Jefa and why they're urging others to do so, too.

Karely Hernandez, North Carolina Hispanic Media Director for Hillary Clinton

Karely Hernandez
photo: Karely Hernandez
Vivala: What made you want to work for the Clinton campaign?

Karely Hernandez:
Immigration reform, mi comunidad and the future of our country. There is too much at stake in these elections for me not to be involved. Listening to such harsh, divisive and discriminatory rhetoric coming from the “one who shall not be named,” fuels me day after day to get up and handle business, or as POTUS would say, handle bidness, on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Working on the campaign, and working in politics is my way of representing and advocating for my family and my community. As someone whose family was directly impacted by our broken immigration system, as someone who has seen brilliant students unable to pursue higher education due their immigration status, as someone who has advocated for workers’ and immigrants’ rights, I fully support all efforts to help bridge disparities and give a voice to the Latinx community. 

And that is what a White House under Hillary Clinton would mean. She has concrete plans that will directly impact the lives of my little brother, of my mother, of my friends’ families, of those I love. To me, this campaign is not about Hillary Clinton, this is about something greater. This is about our future as a country.

Vivala: Have you experienced a life-changing moment? 
KH: This entire campaign is life-changing. This is my passion. Being “behind the scenes” of politics, I’ve come to realize that this has nothing to do with President Obama, Michelle Obama, Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton, fancy titles or cool access. They are simply the vessels we, as members of society, vote for to create the change we want and need.

Nestor Ruiz, Clinton campaign digital organizer

Nestor Ruiz, Clinton campaign staffer
photo: Nestor Ruiz

Vivala: What made you want to work for the Clinton campaign?

Nestor Ruiz: Ever since the deportation of my father in 2006 I have been looking for ways to fight and protect my immigrant community. I started organizing full-time when DACA was announced. I have been on the ground for a good minute but I knew I could be doing something else. I am here to do all I can to elect the first woman president on the United States of America! She has plans that would benefit my family and keep the protection that I currently have, DACA.

Vivala: What's been the biggest highlight so far?

NR: I have had the honor of meeting many people I admire and look up to: Rita Moreno, Sonia Manzano, Eva Longoria, Raul de Molina and being blessed by the one and only The First Lady, Michelle Obama!

Vivala: Have you experienced a life-changing moment?

NR: To me this whole experience has been a life changing moment. As a DACA-mented immigrant from Mexico, who was brought by two warrior parents for a better future, who spent most of his life undocumented to working in a historic election is my life changing moment. I know this is a very important moment.

I have family from Mexico messaging me asking for updates about the elections. These are family members I haven't seen or met since my family came to the United States in 1998. I have made a second family here, we are here with one mission in mind and that mission is to see Sec. Hillary Clinton become President Hillary Clinton. 

Manolo Betancur, Clinton campaign volunteer

Manolo Betancur
photo: Manolo Betancur

Vivala: What made you want to volunteer for the Clinton campaign?

Manolo Betancur: One day I took my 7-year-old son to school and he was crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said that his friend told him that Donald Trump was going to be our president. And because we are immigrants, my son thought that we would be separated. He thought that I would be Colombia and that his mom would be in Mexico. I told him that would not happen because we are all American citizens. I also told him that I would work really hard to make sure immigrant families stay together. 

Ivonne Farfan, Clinton campaign volunteer

Ivonne Farfan
photo: Ivonne Farfan
Vivala: What made you want to volunteer for the Clinton campaign?
Ivonne Farfan: I want to see a successful change in this country with an experienced president. I know that if I lead with example, others will follow and do the same. That is how we can multiply ourselves and our efforts. I believe volunteering can inspire others to do the same in their community.

I trust that Hillary is the best candidate because she is experienced, she know about the needs of our country, believes in the progress of technology, the economy, and finance. I know God will guide the country in the hands of a new president.

Vivala: Did you have any expectations before you started?

IF: Yes. I definitely had expectations from the candidates. And Clinton has met mine thus far. Clinton is the person who has the experience, she is the champion that will make change. I strongly believe that if we do not support her and vote for her, we are simply contributing and helping her opponent win. However, I have faith that she will become our future president.

Vivala: Have you experienced a life-changing moment?

IF: I have experienced many life-changing moments as an immigrant in this country. And I hope that this is a life-changing moment for many others. I like to think women have an extra eye that allows us to take in to account the needs of others. I know that Hillary will help our country progress. She wants to move it forward, not backward.

By the record-breaking number of Latino early voters, it looks like these Clinton staffers really did an amazing job of getting the word out about their candidate.