The high school class of 2017 will be the first to graduate with Donald Trump as president of the United States. We reached out to seniors across the country to gauge their mood and ask how they feel about the president-elect and about their future under his leadership. Here are their edited responses:
Marvin Ruiz, 17, Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.
At first I was really disappointed, but once you think about it you just have to go with it. It’s more about what we as citizens do to keep our president in check. We all expect horrible things, but when I had conversations with teachers and other peers, at least it calmed me down a little. Some of the great laws have actually been made by Republican presidents. For now it’s just to watch his every move and see what he has in store for us. I’m mostly worried about what will happen with my education. I’m a first generation student. I want to be able to go to college, complete my studies and everything. But with all of this in mind, it’s hard to know whether I can complete it.
T.J. Coleman, 18, Roswell H.S., Roswell, N.M.
I voted for Trump and I’m excited to see what he can bring to the economy and to the nation as a whole. I’m hoping he will bring jobs and the economy up to a better point and make situations easier for middle class and lower class families. Here in Roswell, the more involved you are in agriculture, the better off you’re doing. And if agriculture fails in Roswell the economy in Roswell fails as well. I like his tax plan and that it will make it easier for some families to make it work with taxes.
I’m also a fan of some of his immigration rules. I’m a fan of the wall. I think it’s a good symbol that America stands more for legal immigration than illegal immigration. I’m also happy that he stands for Second Amendment rights along with First Amendment rights. I’m a little concerned with his temperament and how he is willing to say whatever it takes to get your attention and might not necessarily mean what he’s saying. I’m also worried about him trying to deport some people without really explaining his plan. Being on the border, immigration is always an issue here.
Katrina Lafromboise, 17, Rocky Boy High School, Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, Mont.
I’m a senior but I didn’t vote because I’m 17. It’s kind of iffy to me that Donald Trump’s our president. There are people all over the country who have negative opinions about him, but I’d like to wait and see how he does and how he goes about it before I judge him and the actions he’s going to take.
We have 16 seniors at my high school. I think my classmates were just as shocked as I was. We had a poll in our government class and everybody was voting for Hillary. I’m part of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and there’s a lot of talk on the reservation and in the tribe about what he’s going to do. It’s all pretty much negative and right now I’m just hoping for the best. I was kind of hoping we’d have a woman president.
Micayla Yates, 18, Trinity Catholic High School, Ocala, Fla.
I voted for Donald Trump. I was extremely excited to vote. It’s like a rite of passage. At one point during the campaign, I did not really want to vote for any of the candidates. However, I figured that it was my civil duty to further educate myself and vote, because I knew every single vote would count in this particular election. My family is primarily Republican, but I was not necessarily set on voting for Mr. Trump. I watched the debates and did some of my own research about each candidate. One of the biggest reasons for voting for Trump was that he is pro-life. I have been raised in a Catholic family my whole life, so pro-life is a very important belief I hold. I could not bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton because of her pro-choice stance and the evidence that she is against Catholics. Also, I do not find her to be very trustworthy after the email scandal and the Benghazi incident.
I am aware that many people do not like Donald Trump’s character, but he has not given any major reason to not be trustworthy or honest. I know many people are concerned about Trump having no previous experience in government. I believe that he is already surrounding himself with experienced people who will guide him throughout his presidency, such as his running mate, Mike Pence.
Another deciding factor for me was that the next president will fill the position of the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. I would rather have someone with more conservative views such as myself and Trump fill the seat than someone with Hillary Clinton’s more liberal ideals.
Alia Shahzad, 17, Cranbrook School, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
I didn’t get to vote because I don’t turn 18 until December, but I would’ve voted for Mrs. Clinton. I’m kind of in shock. My mother is not a citizen and she’s from a Muslim majority country. I understand Trump’s current policy would disallow her from applying for citizenship, and my mother has not even gotten a parking ticket in the 20 years she’s lived here. I don’t see how his policy would make the country safer as much as target certain individuals for their race or religion. I am Muslim. It’s a huge part of my family, my community. I’m from Saginaw and I’m a little worried for my hometown right now because they voted 65 percent Trump.
I’m half Pakistani, half Chinese-Malaysian. I feel very, very, very, American, but I definitely do feel a little scared. If anything, I feel like there was a failing on my part as an upper middle class adolescent to understand the poor white working class narrative. I talk to my friends about diversity and all of those 21st century progressive ideas, but I never really took the time to understand the other side of the coin. I completely blanked out on knowing one half of the American population or sharing my story with them. Maybe that would have convinced them I don’t mean harm to them and I want to stay here.
The first year is going to be really hard, but I think there’s an opportunity here for hope, like Barack Obama said in 2008. So there’s a bit of an optimistic look for the future and maybe that’s what we’ll need to change things. There’s so many things that could set us apart if we don’t look for things to pull us together.
Jaren Givhan, 18, Tupelo H.S., Tupelo, Miss.
I couldn’t vote because my birthday wasn’t until the Friday after the election. But, surprisingly, I probably would have voted for Donald Trump. I haven’t felt like he’s a bigot or the person he’s been made out to be. I feel like he’s a little bit more reasonable than people have portrayed him to be. I think Hillary Clinton is a good leader.
Honestly if she had been president I don’t think we would have been in a bad position either. I feel good about both candidates. [Trump] needs to join ideas from all parties and be open to hear things from other parties and try to implement them. I do feel optimistic. He is a smart man. Yes we can criticize him for not paying taxes, but I feel like he is a smart man when you get down to it.
Justis Hoffart, 18, Crofton H.S., Crofton, Neb.
I voted for Gary Johnson. He seemed to have the ideas that matched up with me. A lot of people said that was a vote thrown away, but I don’t believe that. This being the first time I voted, it showed me that my vote does have a say in certain things. Maybe not so much at the presidential level, but more in the sense of votes that counted here in our town.
So honestly, Trump wasn’t who I wanted to win, but no matter what the result I’m going to respect who was elected and I’m going to respect what they do for the country. I’m honestly very excited seeing what Trump is going to do for us as we go into college and maybe even past that if he were to be elected to a second term. It’s fun to see an outside candidate winning and now running the country. I do have my little concerns here and there about him. I’m concerned about how he’s going to handle foreign affairs. But outside of that, I’m just ready for him to do what he’s going to do and see if that’s going to work out for me in the future.
Devan Udall, 18, Berkeley H.S., Berkeley, Calif.
I voted for Clinton. I was feeling pretty optimistic about it because everything in my environment told me it was improbable that Trump would win. At Berkeley High the general mood is just shock, outrage, despair, fear. People just couldn’t believe it. This is not necessarily my personal view, but for the students at Berkeley High there’s a general attitude of we’re not open to discussion about whether Trump has legitimacy as a leader or whether he’s going to do a good job or whether he deserves this position. The general attitude is he should not be there in the first place and that it’s our responsibility to demonstrate that we’re in opposition to his presidency. But I feel like what this election has shown us is that it’s really important for people who are more left to not just assume that people who are conservative or people who voted for Trump are sexist, racist or crazy. We talk a lot at Berkeley High about the Berkeley bubble. We pride ourselves on being very tolerant, yet we reject conservative views constantly and I think that is no longer useful. If you encounter a Trump supporter you can no longer hurl insults, you have to engage.
The anger towards Trump, especially among young people, especially among young people of color, of immigrant parents, this anger is very justified. All of the things that he said are causing a lot of fear because now they’re becoming real. They’re not just words, they’re real. He’s the man in the White House. So emotions are very raw, but I do expect there will be transition to constructive discussion. I think that outrageous comments and racism and intolerance is what got Trump elected and I think that he’s going to now try and shy away from that and be more constructive rather than hateful and dismissive.
Faith Jenkins, 17, Jules E. Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical School, Philadelphia
I was too young to vote, but I wanted Hillary. I don’t think it’s fair because he didn’t win the popular vote. The popular vote is what the people really want. I’m worried about him being president because he doesn’t like immigrants. Immigrants come to the United States to do work, not to just lie around. And I don’t think he’s a good president for African Americans. If he was he would have been more successful in cities like Philadelphia and Chicago. I just rather that Hillary Clinton would be president.
Alisha Quall, 18, Black River Falls H.S. Black River Falls, Wisc.
I’d rather not say who I voted for. I definitely believe that voting is very important to do, especially when you’re younger. I was a little bit surprised that Trump won, but this might have been what we were coming to. People were sick of the regular politics.
I think our country definitely has a lot of things to work through. In past elections, you could disagree with someone, but you could agree to disagree. But now once you tell someone who you voted for, once that’s out, people might not like you anymore. Now it’s just, I’m right, you’re wrong, which is a big problem. My friends were split between Trump and Clinton. It has definitely caused tensions in the school. It is scary, but I am optimistic. Every thing happens for a reason. We have to make the best of the change and move forward.