Activist credits UHCL with inspiration to mobilize young Latinos to vote

October 1, 2018 | Katherine Adams

Activist credits UHCL with inspiration to mobilize young Latinos to vote

In 2014, Antonio Arellano started working on his bachelor’s in communication at University of Houston-Clear Lake. But his two-semester internship at the Houston Chronicle led straight to a job at KTRK-Channel 13 as their first-ever social media influencer, hired to engage a new, younger demographic from the millennial/Latino perspective about city and community events. “I hit the ground running,” he said. “I was honored to help shape our station embraced a new era of social media news dissemination.”

Arellano is in the center of local politics, and is using his combined passion for community involvement and social media to highlight what he believes are some of Houston’s most acute political challenges. “Harris County is 40 percent Latino,” Arellano said. “Yet, we have never had a single Latino mayor. There’s never been a Latino county judge.”

As communications director of Jolt, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization focusing on Latino voter registration, mobilization and year-round issue organizing, Arellano said that it’s time for Latinos to shift their mindset from minority to majority. “Minorities are not powerful or influential, but Latinos are in the majority now and we should embrace it and all the change that can come with that.”

Although Arellano says he is not directly connected to any candidate’s campaign, he is using their rallies to amplify his own message of inclusivity and immigration reform in Texas, by voter registrations, mobile billboard and other means. “We’re putting out the facts and letting people make their own decisions,” he said. “The election is Nov. 6, but what keeps me up at night is getting as many people to register to vote before the Oct. 9 deadline. I want to get everyone between 18-25 registered to vote.”

This is the first time in history, Arellano noted, that millennials will be the largest eligible voting population – not baby boomers. “We can decide this election,” he said. “We need to get the Latino vote out and get good representation at the ballot boxes. I’m trying to educate and empower Latino voters and bring about transformative change.”

Arellano hopes to continue his education, noting the impact of his time at UHCL. “My experience there was so phenomenal,” he said. “It catapulted me into a new era of personal success, not just journalistic success. I connected and engaged with the student body there. I hope to continue my degree in fall 2019.”

He added, “At UHCL I realized we are going to be remembered for our actions. We need to stop looking for leaders. It’s you, step up, fill the void. The people who will change America are in my contact list on my phone. UHCL is a place to educate and polish future leaders. We have a messaging and leadership crisis in the U.S. and other countries are looking at us in disbelief. This is our fight,” he said. “It’s on us.”

To pick up voter registration forms, visit the UHCL Dean of Students Office