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A Born Leader Hoping to Change the World

“What I wanted to be was a lawyer,” Republican candidate for Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears said. “In fact, I was accepted to law school. But by then, things had changed.”

Sears is familiar with change. She was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the United States with her father in 1963.

“I was six years old. In Jamaica – we’re talking about sunshine. Then I come to the Bronx; in the cold, in an apartment building, behind six locks. It was very traumatic,” she said.

Sears learned to adapt and frequently traveled back and forth. She also learned about the politics of both countries.

“We read two different newspapers every day,” Sears said. “Then we had the American magazines and we discussed those. We’d have arguments. Jamaicans love to talk politics.”

Some of her favorite conversations were with her grandmother who taught her about God.

“The grandkids always knew: if you see your grandmother with her head under a sheet because she would pull it over, that was her prayer tent. She was very instrumental in everything I did,” Sears said.

Right before Sears planned to go to college, her grandmother died, leaving her feeling lost. Soon after, she saw an advertisement for the United States Marine Corp in a magazine.

“'The few, the proud, the Marines.’ So I said, ‘That’s what I need. I need some discipline.'” Sears said.

“When you see a woman Marine, there’s not a lot of us. I was a journeyman electrician and diesel mechanic, so I was definitely among the few,” she said.

The Marines taught her leadership skills, but Sears still felt like her faith in God was lacking. 

“I finally said to myself, ‘I’m tired of living this other kind of life. I need to be discipled,’” she said.

After she left the Marines, she moved to Virginia with her husband. They got involved in a local church and were discipled. She also went to college.

“I finished my four-year degree in three years. Then I was accepted into law school,” Sears said.

It was something she dreamed of her whole life, but she couldn’t shake the feeling it wasn’t right. She decided instead to work for the Salvation Army at a homeless shelter.

“(It was the) best job I ever had, because I could see how I could bring hope into lives that needed hope,” she said.

Sears wanted to do more to help, so she applied to Regent University to study public policy. With the guidance of her professors, she found the perfect degree for her: Organizational Leadership.

“There was nothing that was off limits. We talked about everything, heated discussions,” she said. 

“Regent’s motto is ‘Christian Leadership to Change the World.’ I looked around at my fellow students and I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m sitting here among these people. These people are leaders. They’re going to change the world!’” she said.

“I think that being at Regent, you begin to understand that as a leader, bold choices have to be made,” Sears said.

And a bold decision she soon made. While at Regent, she was asked to run for the Virginia House of Delegates.

“I only had three months before the election. I had no money, no name ID, running against a powerhouse,” Sears said. “I believe the people felt I was going to do right by them. They were going to take a chance on me. So we won. I don’t say ‘I won,’ I say ‘we’ because we were going to be different.”

In 2002, Sears became the first black, female Republican, first female veteran, and first naturalized citizen to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates. In 2003, she graduated with her Master’s degree from Regent. After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2004, she started a private business during the recession.

“I had just a name and a phone number. No employees, no trucks, no tools, no customers, no nothing. But again, faith. We started that business and it thrived,” Sears said.

Now, Sears is working to enter back into public office as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

“My campaign is really based on Psalm 133:1. ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in peace and harmony.’ This is America,” Sears said. “There’s nowhere else to run to. And people run to America for liberty and freedom.”

No matter what the future holds, Sears knows who holds the future.

“You always know that God is there,” she said. “You always know that He’s there.”

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