by Danielle Fife
Earlier this month, the CBLPI interns headed to Maryland to give some big sister advice to a group of conservative high schoolers attending the Young America's Foundation's annual National High School Leadership Conference. More than fifty high school girls piled into a lunch room to listen to the five CBLPI interns share their experiences as conservatives in college. The five interns attend very different colleges and were able to offer a wide range of experiences and opinions.
Andrea Vacchiano attends Rutgers University in New Jersey, a quite liberal school where she has received more than her fair share of harassment from her liberal peers. She told the girls about the time she brought a conservative speaker to her campus and the event was interrupted by protestors. In the end, Andrea encouraged the students to stay involved and to stand up to their peers.
Danielle Fife attends Patrick Henry College, a small conservative college where the politically conservative students often choose apathy over promoting their conservative ideas. Danielle encouraged the girls to not lose heart when they are challenged by conservative peers who discourage their involvement in the conservative movement.
Danielle DiQuattro is a student at Grove City College, another conservative college, and offered some tidbits of wisdom to the girls. She told the girls to befriend people they disagree with, work towards common goals, remember who they are, and always remember to laugh even when the going gets tough. She left the girls with an encouragement to "be a little bit sassy, but oh so classy."
Abby Slagle attends Miami of Ohio and shared her journey from not being politically active to becoming a political science major. In the end, Abby exhorted the girls to follow her three tips to a great four years: try something new, don't be shy, and take advantage of the opportunities presented.
Elizabeth Campbell attends Virginia Tech and has been harassed in and out of the classroom. Recently, she brought Kate Obenshain to Virginia Tech through CBLPI and YAF. She relayed to the high school girls how joining a conservative club gave her an encouraging environment to talk about her ideas and empowered her to start tough discussions on her campus and to challenge the radical liberalism she faced every day.
At the end of the luncheon, the panel of interns turned to the high school girls for questions. One student asked the panel if a conservative should accept a lower grade from a professor because she advocates conservative ideas. The interns expressed that it is important to weigh the pros and cons and be careful to remain respectful of your professors. Other questions varied from, "What is one piece of advice you would give your high school self?" to "How do you counter apathy when starting a new conservative club on a conservative campus?"
At the end of the Q&A, the high school girls gathered around to introduce themselves to the CBLPI interns and ask more questions. They were thrilled to hear advice from these five conservative "big sisters."
Danielle is a 2016 summer intern.