y Sydney Grunion (Valencia College Theater Major)

To me, Hillary Rodham Clinton has and will always be the definition of this word.

Throughout her entire life, she has done nothing but come out stronger in the face of adversity. I am not going to list the adversities – we are all well aware of what they are, and we all know that she comes out fighting even harder once she overcomes.

She has always overcome.

My entire life, I grew up knowing this woman’s name.

I turned eighteen in 2013, after the last Presidential Election. I abstained from voting until this year’s primary election. I know that midterm elections are important, that local elections are important too, but I couldn’t bring myself to vote.

I was saving my first vote for Hillary.

When my absentee ballot came in, I knew, wholeheartedly and without a doubt who I was voting for.

When Hillary accepted the Democratic nomination at the Democratic Convention, I cried tears of joy.

A woman who had inspired me for years, who is the main reason I have ever had an interest in politics, was the nominee for the party I had registered with two years prior.

I was so sure she had this in the bag.

I could finally shout out that I was with her.

In the coming months, I showed my support. I went to rallies. I volunteered. I donated. I shared posts all over social media to get people out to vote. I met former President Bill Clinton and watched as he told the crowd Hillary’s economic plan that would have made life so much better for college students like myself, for middle class families like my own.

When my mail-in-ballot for the election arrived, my hands shook as I opened the envelope. My eyes literally welled with tears as I read her name on the ballot.

Like so many young women I know who were also voting in their first Presidential Election, with a black pen in hand, I filled in the bubble beside her name.

The photo used as the header of this post is from last Tuesday in Sanford, one exact weekto election day, when Hillary made three stops in Florida.

I was at this rally. I waited almost eight hours to see this woman, who I had admired for so long in person. She did not let me down. She was so charming and well spoken. She made clear what she had in store for America. What her all inclusive vision was. To make this the country foreveryone. I left that rally with nothing but pure joy and hope in my heart. I cried on the way home because I was so overwhelmed with emotion. She was going to do what was best for this country, for its people. I was convinced she was going to be our first female President.

A week later, my heart shattered.

I was overcome with so much anxiety and fear that at 10:30PM on Election Night, I retreated to my room and cried. I was physically shaking. Four hours later when the election was called, I went to sleep with aheart full of disgust and disbelief. The last sixteen hours haven’t been any easier. When I woke up to find she had won the popular vote, I was completely and utterly devastated.

Hillary was who the American people wanted to lead the nation.

As I watched her concede, I couldn’t help but think of the unfairness of this all. It hurt me as a woman because there was no candidate more qualified for this position than she was. That the misogyny in this country, elected someone to the highest position of power that has no experience because of their hatred of women.

“And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks -– sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.

To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”

This quote is the reason that I am going to work harder to be better. I am not going to let setbacks tear me down. I will use my voice to spread love. I will do whatever it takes to make people more informed, to help bridge the divide that we so desperately are going to need to mend within the next four years.

I am forever going to be grateful to Hillary for showing women that if we don’t back down and push towards our dreams, almost anything is achievable. Because of her work ethic, her strength, and her determination, the next time a woman receives the nomination of her party, we won’t be surprised.

When we finally have our first elected female president, it will be because she helped pave the way.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is my champion, and I am proud to have been, and always be, with her.