YAF chapters took an unprecedented year and built inspiring programs and activities nationwide, despite most schools enacting hyper-restrictive COVID-19 regulations and creating a seemingly endless list of obstacles. Young Americans for Freedom Board of Governors have selected the following chapters as Chapters of Distinction:

Ave Maria University Young Americans for Freedom

One of YAF’s newest chapters, Ave Maria YAF (AMU YAF) is proving to be a chapter to watch. Shortly after they were founded in February, the chapter organized well over 20 of its members to attend YAF’s Miami Freedom Conference. This program electrified the chapter and left them hungry to go back to campus to inspire their peers through activism initiatives and renowned conservative speakers.

In April, AMU YAF hosted the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles, organizing arguably the largest campus event since the COVID shutdowns. Their event was met with wild enthusiasm as the chapter worked weeks on end leading up to the event to energize their peers and ensure their lecture was filled to capacity—and it was. “The event was not only extremely successful in terms of turnout, but also in the weeks leading up to the event,” explains AMU YAF Chairman Juliana Purcell. “Prior to the event, public policy wasn’t talked about much amongst students, however in the weeks leading up to the event students were talking about the event and our club to their friends, thus leading to meaningful conversations about current events that matter and inspiring greater interest in our club.”

Additionally, the chapter dedicated much time to developing a support network throughout their community. In doing this, they were able to secure $10,000 for their April lecture and over $400 for their upcoming 9/11: Never Forget Project. The chapter also sent 13 of their members to our Faith and Freedom Seminar in Virginia where they heard from some of the Movement’s most influential leaders and learned how to better advance conservative ideas at Catholic schools.

The Catholic University Young Americans for Freedom

Closer to YAF’s Headquarters the Catholic University of America YAF (CUA YAF) also organized another popular campus speaker event titled, “the Immorality of Open Borders,” featuring Fox News’s Rachel Campos Duffy.

Like most students, CUA YAF was tired of the dull and monotonous environment their school’s COVID regulations created, and they set out to change this. With CUA being one of America’s preeminent Catholic universities and with the Biden administration being reluctant to fix the crisis on America’s southern border, the YAFers recognized a need to educate their peers on the Catholic case for supporting conservative immigration policies by hosting Duffy. Though limited due to the school’s crowd restrictions, the event was met with much enthusiasm.

CUA YAF Chairman Catherine Kildea details, “I started this chapter in a dormitory lounge in 2019. To be able to walk out in front of a crowd of students and introduce Rachel Campos-Duffy was a dream come true. I am so proud of our chapter and the dedicated work of our members to make this event a success. CUA YAF is the driving conservative force on campus, and the success of this event is a testament to that. I am excited to see all that the chapter achieves next year!”

University of Virginia Young Americans for Freedom

The YAF chapter at the University of Virginia (UVA YAF) overcame a different set of challenges. In addition to overburdening COVID restriction, the campus is plagued with a culture of anti-American sentiment. From professors attempting to kick students off campus who disagree with the concept of “microaggressions” to a student government who actively tries to censor any student or professor who does not submit to their Marxist dogma, YAFers at UVA have to fight exceptionally hard to uphold values like those promoted by their school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson.

After recognizing a growing anti-police sentiment amongst their peers following the summer BLM riots, leftists began to circulate calls to defund the campus police. UVA YAF set out to push back against this hateful rhetoric and organized a “Back the Blue” gathering on campus at the close of the school year. The event was headlined by Nick Freitas, a powerful conservative voice in the VA House of Delegates.

While some on campus were unsurprisingly frustrated that the conservatives would publicly support the men and women who keep us safe, much of the greater community was proud to see students organize the bold event. “We wanted to bring a positive message to the university and the local community (a community that we know values city and county police protection).” Victoria Spiotto, chairman of UVA remarks, “it was a beautiful event that…lifted UVA students’ and community spirits.  We even gained several new student members who came out to discover who YAF is at UVA and who now plan on being active members.”

UVA YAF also used the event to raise funds for the charity selected by their local Fraternal Order of Police, Legaci Eats.

St. Theodore Guerin Catholic High School

Our fourth and final Chapter of Distinction this month is St. Theodore Guerin Catholic High School (GCHS YAF).

Like Ave Maria YAF, GCHS YAF also sent members to our Faith and Freedom Seminar. They too were inspired by this program to organize thought provoking events that would challenge students to consider conservative perspectives.To do this, the conservative activists worked to host YAF speaker, Jorge Galicia, a Venezuelan asylum seeker who shares his stories and experiences growing up in a socialist country.

GCHS YAF recognized that many of their peers may not yet fully understand the dangers that come from a socialist government or what the stance the Catholic Church had historically taken on the issue of communism and socialism. “In my history class,” explains Katherine LaReau, co-chair of GCHS YAF, “we spent an entire unit learning about Fidel Castro, who was a mentor and source of inspiration for the brutal Venezuelan authoritarian ruler Hugo Chavez. Jorge’s message was an important one for students to hear as several of them are currently taking economics and government classes where they are learning about different economic systems and the effect of government policies on the economy.” The following day, a meeting was held on campus for students to discuss Jorge’s talk and conversation lasted over two hours.

The events ignited an enthusiasm on campus for more, with more students desiring to engage with the YAF chapter.

For their tremendous efforts to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, combat cultures of apathy and anti-American zeal, and inspire their classmates with conservative ideas, we congratulate these four chapters on receiving the title of Chapter of Distinction.

The following members were also instrumental in the chapters’ successes:

Ave Maria University YAF

  • Sarah Tomic
  • Lucia Hoeing
  • Luke Bagley
  • Nick Guernsey
  • Anna Fitzgerald
  • Mary Purcell
  • Claire Pfaffenbach
  • Gabriella Yankay

The Catholic University of America YAF

  • Catherine Kildea
  • Kelsey Nowack
  • Gabrielle Dankanich
  • Jess Failla
  • Jane Olhan
  • Alex Diaz
  • Colin Agostisi
  • Adam Joseph

University of Virginia YAF

  • Morgan Bettinger
  • Bronte Sundstrom
  • Glenn Bohlman

St. Theodore Guerin Catholic High School YAF

  • Co-chair John Riley
  • Ty Harrington
  • Riley Garrison
  • Lexi White
  • Sean Loub