Elena has seen and done a lot in her 83 years, but this week she experienced a special “first.” She VOTED for the very first time. Born in Cuba, but a decades-long resident of Puerto Rico, Elena moved to the United States last March and has been visiting ISC ever since.

Her excitement about voting is palpable. “I have been a citizen for more than 30 years, but this is my first time voting in a U.S. election,” she says enthusiastically, giving a happy thumbs up. Pausing for a moment to high-five her many well-wishers, she continues, “I am so proud. So very proud. I feel like a real citizen. I voted before, but here it seems more important.”

Elena admits she is a bit of a news junky, because knowing “what is happening in the world is more important than anything else.” She is also a big fan of PBS because, as she explains, “They open my mind. They help me to learn without telling me what to do.”

What are the most pressing issues for this lively octogenarian? Health care—especially covering pre-existing conditions; supporting the DREAMERS; and finding a way to help hard-working-but-undocumented residents to find a path to citizenship.

When asked why it was so important for her to vote, she is succinctly passionate.

“I am a citizen. I need to help turn this ship in the right direction.”