By: Nathan Brand, Hillsdale College
Since high school, I have been blessed to be involved with Young
America's Foundation. The Foundation has allowed me to have a
greater influence with my peers, to grow as a leader, and to build
friendships with students and conservative leaders across the
nation. More than anything though, my time with Young America's
Foundation has given me great purpose for my time in college.
I had no idea what to expect when I walked into my first
conference as a sophomore in high school. A friend and frequent
Foundation speaker, Kirby Wilbur, told me about the Young America's
Foundation National High School Leadership Conference. He told me
that it was an awesome conservative conference full of like-minded
students from all over the country. I was sold! With not knowing
what to anticipate, I remember splurging at Nordstrom to buy a
sport coat for the conference, telling the salesman "I might be
meeting the President." Although he set me up with a very nice
sports coat, I never did meet the President. Instead, I got to
engage first-hand with dozens of conservative leaders and make
friendships that have lasted throughout the years! That was the
first of the ten Foundation conferences I have been to since
I knew I was a conservative before I attended any of the
Foundation conferences, but the conferences have turned me from a
conservative on the sidelines to a conservative in the game.
During my senior year of high school, I organized the 9/11:
Never Forget Project. The experience of putting together the
event and watching the impact it had on people in my community was
amazing! Along with the thousands of people who saw the flag
display, two local papers ran stories on my project and the local
FOX TV affiliate ran a segment on it. This was just the start of my
long and fruitful journey with the Foundation.
After high school, I went on to attend Hillsdale College in
Michigan. Looking to stay in the political arena, I quickly
realized none of the groups on campus were truly active or looking
to make a real difference in the lives of their peers. Fortunately,
I knew about a fantastic organization that had the resources and
tools to help me make an impact on my campus: Young Americans for
Freedom, the Foundation's chapter affiliate.
Hillsdale College is different than any other college in the
country. We are continually ranked as one of the most conservative
schools in the country. Just to give you an idea of what that
means, we have a statue of Ronald Reagan and an even bigger statue
of Margaret Thatcher in the quad on our campus. So our club's
purpose was not about taking on a liberal campus and liberal
administrators, but rather fighting student apathy.
I started the Hillsdale Young Americans for Freedom chapter with
the help of just a couple of friends. Starting with no money and
very few members, we had a long way to go to make a real impact.
Thanks to the generous support of the Foundation, our YAF chapter
was able to bring syndicated talk show host Michael Medved to
campus for our first event. The event turned out over 200 people,
more than one tenth of our campus! Next thing you know, Hillsdale
YAF became the coolest club on campus.
Since our club's founding, we have done numerous activist events
including No More Che Day, Freedom Week, National School Choice
Week, and many more events. Among them, we brought author and
columnist Katie Pavlich to campus to speak about the importance of
the 2nd Amendment. We were also fortunate enough to
take her out to our school's gun range.
With every event we have hosted, the Foundation has been at our
side supporting our chapter. From boxes of posters and banners to
phone calls with Young Americans for Freedom Executive Director
Patrick Coyle, the Foundation has given us their unwavering
support. With the Foundation's resources, being a conservative
activist has never been easier.
Our YAF chapter has opened doors for many of my fellow Hillsdale
YAF peers. Because of their work on spreading the conservative
message, Hillsdale YAF members have landed internships with
congressmen, the NRA, Conservative Movement organizations, and even
with Young America's Foundation. Along with opportunities opened up
outside of campus, students have been able to network with
conservative leaders that will continue to provide opportunities
for years to come.
I would strongly encourage any conservative student to start a
YAF chapter on their college campus. I guarantee it will be
personally rewarding and you will be amazed by the impact you will
have on your peers. So get off the sideline, get your butt off the
bench, and start promoting the conservative cause, because our
generation is the best hope of taking back our college campuses and
taking back our country.
*Nathan is rising junior and the chairman of the Young Americans
for Freedom chapter at Hillsdale College.