Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 5 Growing up with a future Lieutenant Governor By KATIA AND JANEL SEARS I feel like we all grew up together. While she was getting her bachelor's at Old Dominion University, she would bring us with her to its daycare center, have at least one of us behind her as she rode her bike around Norfolk, and made sure we had every opportunity to be happy, thriving kids. She stressed the importance of education and every summer enrolled us in summer enrichment programs to ensure we didn’t lose anything we learned during the school year. Our mom originally voted Democrat, but about 30 years ago she found her beliefs aligned more with the principles of the original Republican Party. She's always had a heart for people, and she’s seen what socialism did to her home country, and she doesn’t want that for America. The pride we feel in everything my mom has accomplished: I'm most proud that she’s the same person she has always been from day one. She’s not easily swayed. You'll never see her sweat. You'll never force her to change who she is. That’s because she’s led by God, not by man. So anything anyone says about her, positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. She knows who she is, and she knows whose child she is. Our mom took us to a lot of cultural and educational events growing up. Throughout the week, she would read the newspaper and scan the Arts and Entertainment section of The Virginian Pilot to see what upcoming events were happening on the weekends. With three girls of close ages at home, Mom would select outings that she knew would appeal to our interests and enable us to get out of the house for the day. Some of the places Mom would take us were to the ballet, the opera, our neighborhood library, the many museums in and around Norfolk, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and various cultural festivals such as African-American, Greek, and Filipino. She didn’t wait for our school or for class field trips to give us these experiences, she researched and sought them out for her children because she wanted us to have those memories. The kind of toys that we had growing up were toys in which you could build things or experiment to find out how things worked. Sure, we had our Barbie dolls, playhouses, and plenty of time playing dress-up, but Mom wanted our minds to be active and engaged. A specific thing Mom did was to nurture our talents, and so when mom discovered that I could sing she again sought out a program or even a children’s chorus that I could join and found one for me. From there, I had an audition at six years old with the Virginia Children’s Chorus and sang professionally for about 10 years. A couple of years later, my sister would join that same chorus after Mom heard her singing in the house as well. Mom has always said that her grandmother, our great-grandmother, was the one who got her interested in politics because, in Jamaica, politics is of great importance and is talked about at length around the dinner table. For my mother, growing up where the examples you have around you are people who look like you and whose profession is either as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, scientist, educator, or working professional, this causes you to believe that there’s nothing that you cannot do as long as you are willing to work hard and educate yourself. Education has always been a foundational point of my mother’s life, a grounding and rootedness for her, and so she strived to create those same opportunities for my sisters and me as well as the children of the Commonwealth. For me, I’m often amazed at her boldness and courage, and her belief in her convictions. She does not allow what others might say or think of her to affect her purposes or her voice. If there’s anything I am most proud of, it is the courage it gives me to also not be afraid to use my voice even if what I have to say some may not like. If what you have to say causes action or causes minds to change for the better or betterment of a thing, then speak boldly. Katia and Janel Sears are the daughters of Lieutenant Governor Winsome E. Sears. Katia is a Senior Event Manager for military and government agencies. Janel is a stylist and personal assistant. KATIA SEARS JANEL SEARS 804.225.5507 CHIP DICKS Legislative Counsel V