By: Diana Soriano

Day three of YAFCon was another huge success. The first lecture of the day was not until 11AM, but YAFers were already starting to line up downstairs at 6AM to secure a good spot in the ballroom. Who in the world could possibly get college students to be five hours early for something? No other than the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.

After hours of amped security and students cheering literally every time anyone walked past the stage, YAF’s Vice President Patrick Coyle introduced VP Mike Pence. Pence praised YAF for being “a bulwark for the principles of the American founding” and told students that he had been “involved with YAF since [he] was first elected to Congress 20 years ago.” He also asserted that “when it comes to free speech, YAF and [the Trump] Administration are standing shoulder to shoulder.” It was nice to hear that the Administration has our back, but we already knew that.

Pence also discussed our booming economy and reaffirmed President Trump’s words from his 2019 State of the Union address that “America will never be a socialist country.” I was delighted to hear this, and so were the rest of my peers. USA chants were plentiful this morning.

To our surprise, Pence came down to the barricade after his speech and took his time shaking our hands, getting in our selfies, and conversing with us. Personally, I shook his hand and thanked him for defending the lives of babies in the womb. He told me that protecting life is why he and his wife are here. Later in the day, the VP posted a picture of me on his social media accounts, and the first thing I thought was, wow that would have never happened without YAF.

Afterwards, YAFers enjoyed a luncheon with Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn focused in on free speech on campus and asserted that, “each one of [us] has a responsibility to protect the free and open exchange of ideas.” I asked my first question of the week to Blackburn about how she feels to be the politician who got Taylor Swift to break her ‘deafening silence’ on politics. She laughed and played on the tune of one of Swift’s songs asserting that she would ‘never ever ever’ care about what an entertainer thought about what she believed in.

Next up was the youngest sitting senator, Josh Hawley (R-MO). Hawley mostly spoke about how the desires of the middle of the country are often ignored and that does not fly with him. He also discussed how BigTech needs to be stopped, which conjured up some disagreements with the audience. This is definitely a hot topic right now, so these conversations were particularly interesting.

Princeton professor Dr. Robert George advocated for the revival of virtue in our culture. He argued that much of our culture today actually encourages us to be our worst selves, and I strongly agreed with this. Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Allen West took the stage after George and had the audience roaring with laughter. He emphasized the importance of choosing a victor mentality over one of victimhood.

Dr. Walter Williams finished off the night at dinner with a humorous yet insightful lecture. Williams clapped back against government overreach and we were loving every minute of it. I wish I could pick that man’s brain for hours; he is a true scholar.

Thank you, God, for another beautiful day. We are looking forward to Day Four!

Diana Soriano is a senior at Boston University and the chairwoman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter.