Student Spotlight - Amanda Swysgood
Amanda Swysgood, a rising junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Luce Policy Institute summer intern, is not shy when it comes to sharing her beliefs. She is a role model for conservative students all over not only because of her bold activism initiatives, but because she is not afraid to speak up and defend her conservative beliefs.
We talked with Amanda recently to find out more about what has given her such confidence in her values and what advice she has for other conservatives on college campuses:
Luce: How did you become a conservative?
Amanda: There was not one moment that I became a conservative, I have always questioned decisions made by my school board and my local government, and by the time I was 10 I was debating a liberal high-schooler on the school bus during the George W. Bush election. My family always encouraged me to think and form opinions; my family is very conservative and hard-working, so that also played a role in my worldview.
Luce: As a conservative, what challenges do you face at your school?
Amanda: I believe the biggest challenges I face is simply the fact that many conservatives will not admit they are conservative, so it is hard to not feel alone. It is harder to be intentional about finding people who agree with you, because conservatives do not speak up in class. It is hard when you feel like even your professors, who you are paying to teach you, are against you and do not support your beliefs. I feel so disrespected all the time, because it is so acceptable to insult conservatism on campus.
Luce: What is your most memorable activist experience?
Amanda: I personally really love doing affirmative action bake sales. I do not care how “polarizing” it may seem, because it proves a point. People are always curious and always stop by and ask what we are doing. It is amazing how many people will admit that they agree with you if you will just stand up and say something.
Luce: Tell us about your experience with hosting a Luce campus lecture
Amanda: We hosted Kate Obenshain last month, and she was GREAT. We had such an amazing time and Kate really took time to get to know us, she was so friendly and she gave an awesome speech. We were able to raise the money quicker than we expected and it was totally worth it.
Luce: Who is your favorite conservative woman leader and why?
Amanda: This is a really hard question. I would have to say Ann Coulter, I could read her writing for hours (and I have on many occasions). I admire her wit and her confidence. She is so honest and she uses facts to back up her arguments. She is extremely articulate and such a strong woman.
Luce: What advice would you give other conservative students?
Amanda: I would tell other conservative students that the most important thing they can do is speak up! They do not have to be ultra-activists, but do not be afraid to answer a question honestly, or write a paper disapproving of a liberal assignment. Also, think for yourself, do not be easily swayed. Be a leader not a follower! Being a liberal is easy; in order to be a conservative you have to think!
Luce: Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Amanda: I hope to be an attorney, and I hope to have a family!!