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TWU student organization aims to promote civic engagement

In spite of the rain and wind howling outside, the Texas Woman’s University chapter of voter advocacy group JOLT Action held its open mic poetry night. 

Freshman psychology major JaMaya LeSueur won first place at the open mic after reading her poems “Melanin, Yet Another Unrequited Love” and “Peace of Mind.” 

“I saw that they put out that they wanted minority perspectives,” LeSueur said. “And this was a poem that I wrote years ago, but I hadn’t performed it. As soon as I got up there, and I started reading the first [poem], it felt natural. It felt like this was something that was really meant to be said, and I felt the power my words had. I love being able to use that voice and share it with others because I feel like somebody will take away something from it. And that’s how I feel with poetry in general.”

LeSueur is not a member of JOLT, though she plans to join the organization in the future.

“I’ve always been an advocate,” LeSueur said. “So personally for me, speaking and educating and empowering other people is something that’s very important, especially now that I’m transitioning into being a young adult and the fact that I have a power that I’ve never had before — being able to vote. So that’s been very important to me, but I also have heavy consideration with education that goes into voting and making sure that when you vote you understand why you’re voting, understand who you’re voting for and understand consequences that may come from that.”

Founded in 2016, JOLT is an organization that seeks to empower young Latinos in Texas through voter engagement, leadership development and promoting arts and culture. Guadalupe Perez Posada is the president of TWU’s chapter of JOLT. She recalls that JOLT was the only organization that stood out to her at Pioneer Week because of how the group bridges activism with Latino heritage.

“Somebody told me JOLT was looking for chapter coordinators to start things on campus,” Perez Posada said. “And I was like, ‘Well, I’ll do it. I have so much free time. I’m totally committed to that.’ And I started working on that, asking around to see [what] other people may be interested, getting some officers, finding an advisor, finding everything to really set the groundwork. And then in the spring, that’s when we really started going with meetings and events, like studying with the officers or explaining cultural aspects in a presentation, or the event that we just did, which is our poetry night. We know that we’re very new, but we’re really excited to be able to make a presence here on campus.”

Citing Button Poetry and the Poetry Foundation, the JOLT TWU Instagram account defines spoken word to be a “broad designation for poetry intended for performance,” as well as a genre that “frequently refer[s] to issues of social justice, politics, race and community.”

“In writing, you don’t have to be an artist for the world,” Perez Posada said. “You can be an artist for yourself, and with writing creatively it’s just you and a pen and whatever you want to do with that. And the way I see it, when you mix forms of art, like creative writing, with things like activism and civic engagement and getting involved in volunteering and doing the good thing — that’s where it becomes invigorating.”

Featured image by Maddie Ray

Jocelyn Truong can be reached via email at

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