by Anna Lippincott
On Friday, July 10, 2015, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute hosted a luncheon for over fifty conservative high school students. The luncheon connected high school students with college interns and gave the young girls the opportunity to hear how college students deal with difficult situations. Young America's Foundation helped organize the event as part of their annual high school conference. It took place at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD.
The event was hugely successful, and the young women loved hearing from slightly older girls about their personal experiences. Each intern talked about a different struggle she faced as a conservative and offered advice for how to combat liberal biases. Before the interns spoke they met with a large number of the girls and heard some of the high schoolers' stories before sharing their own. The speeches were followed by a short Q&A session.
The high school students came from all over the country and were able to find ways to relate to each of the speakers. While everyone's individual struggle is different, all the women agreed that a luncheon like CBLPI's was a perfect safe environment to discuss the struggles of being a young, conservative woman.
As one attendee, Madeline Hervey from Peachtree, GA said, "The speakers were younger, which made it easier for me to relate to them. Hearing their passion and their honest opinions and stories had a very powerful impact knowing that they're regular women making a difference."
CBLPI President Michelle Easton led the discussion by letting the girls know it is possible to get involved with the conservative movement, even at a young age. She told them about CBLPI Lecture Director Laurel Conrad, and how Laurel began coming to events at age 13. Now, a decade later, Laurel helps to shape and influence the lives of young woman. Laurel introduced each of the speakers and let them share their diverse anecdotes of being a conservative at college.
Nicole Johnson, a junior at UVA, related to the young women by sharing her experiences with hostility that occurred during her high school years. Nicole attended the liberal National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. and had negative encounters with teachers who disagreed with her opinions. She notes that in retrospect, she wishes she had not "played the game for the grade," but was also thankful for the times she was "brave and bold."
Next, Anna Lippincott, a senior at Ohio University, talked primarily through anecdotes about her experiences going to school in a liberal small town. She encouraged the girls to be vocal with their opinions and ignore any haters, reminding the students, "You will make friends. If I can do it, you all will be fine."
University of Arizona junior Ashlee Bierworth talked about her experience of transitioning from liberal to conservative ideologies. She encouraged the girls to stick strong in their values, warning them of the power of persuasion teachers and peers oftentimes have. Ashlee encouraged the girls to get involved with conservative clubs or groups that will reaffirm their beliefs.
Following, Keira Hornyak, a junior at the University of Florida, let the girls know how thankful she was to have ended up in liberal Gainesville. There she has had the opportunity to speak to huge groups to students about the importance of conservatism, using the school's required freshman course to spread her messages.
Lastly, Yale University sophomore Aryssa Damron gave the girls pearls of advice to take with them as their venture off to college. She included practical and imminent advice, such as befriend students of all political ideologies. She also included lessons to live by, such as "be a Laura Bush in a world of Kim Kardashians."
Through their speeches, the CBLPI interns provided high school students with a range of challenges they may face and how to combat them. While everyone's experience was different, all the women agreed the best possible thing to do is to speak up and not shy away in the face of adversity.
"I'm going to be going to an arts school in Florida this year, so I know I'm going to encounter a lot of liberal bias there. This was really good in helping me figure out what you can do as a Conservative woman on campus and how to combat liberal bias," said one high school attendee, Eleanor Morlino from Moorestown, NJ.
Susie Dorminy from McDonough, GA agreed, saying, "I really enjoyed hearing all of the stories and it really encouraged me to go out and inspire other and spread the conservative truth!"
The CBLPI high school luncheon was a huge success and great opportunity to get young conservatives excited for what the future holds. Thank you to all those who attended and to YAF for helping co-sponsor such a wonderful program!
Anna Lippincott is a student at Ohio University and a 2015 summer intern at the Luce Institute.