Young Americans for Freedom–and Young America’s Foundation, more generally–changed my life. In less than one year’s time, I went from a shy and timid college conservative to a bold activist in the Conservative Movement on my campus. That transformation is entirely due to joining Young Americans for Freedom.

I was always a conservative by predisposition, by which I mean, as a product of my upbringing and background, I was always a believer in the free market, limited government, and traditional values. But in addition to not being equipped philosophically or intellectually to articulate the reasoning for my positions, I also didn’t have the courage or self-confidence to do so either. Thankfully, however, I did have a desire to change that, and so I began looking for ways, outlets to become an effective advocate for Conservatism.

I was subsequently introduced to Young America’s Foundation, both through listening to The Dennis Prager Show, and watching a Ben Shapiro lecture online in which the YAF logo was draped behind him. I then began looking into the Foundation more heavily, and subsequently decided that I wanted to join the YAF chapter at my school, the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, it didn’t exist. So along with another individual, I stepped out of my comfort zone, went out on a limb, and started a chapter. It was one of, if not the, best decision I’ve ever made.

YAF’s staff made my starting a chapter easy. They did everything they possibly could to help guide me through the terra incognitaon which I was now proceeding. Through that aid, and through attending various conferences, I felt empowered. I no longer felt that I had to hide my conservatism from my peers and professors; on the contrary, in fact, I felt it my proud duty to promulgate my ideas as loudly and persuasively as possible.

My chapter began to grow. We began to get more and more involved on campus, through participating in various national activism initiatives, such as the 9/11: Never Forget Project, No More Che Day, and Freedom Week, to name a few. We were eventually even able to bring retired Lt. Col. Allen West to campus to speak–just a mere 8 months after the chapter’s founding.

I became even further involved in the work of Young America’s Foundation when I interned at the Foundation’s headquarters in Reston, Virginia, becoming a William & Berniece Grewcock Intern Scholar. My work day consisted of recruiting students to upcoming conferences, writing articles for the Foundation’s publication The New Guard, introducing conservative lecturers like Dennis Prager Senator Mike Lee, among countless other exciting activities. I was even able to meet Vice President Mike Pence, and give the invocation prior to his speaking, at the 39thannual National Conservative Student Conference (NCSC). It was the greatest summer of my life.

I share my story in detail not because I think I am somehow special–quite the contrary. That is to say, I was an anxious and shy nonperson at the University of Georgia prior to my involvement with Young America’s Foundation. But the Foundation–through all of its incredible conferences and seminars, activism initiatives, and various other ways to get involved–molded me into an effective advocate for conservatism on my campus. I would like to assure anyone that is reading this who might, perhaps, be interested in becoming more involved in the Conservative Movement, or maybe even in starting their very own Young Americans for Freedom chapter: If I can do it, anyone can. If Young America’s Foundation can make an effective conservative activist out of me, then, fear not: It can make one out of you, too.

I have many regrets about many things in my life, but I have only one regarding YAF: That I didn’t get involved sooner.

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Ross Dubberly is the co-chairman of the University of Georgia Young Americans for Freedom chapter.