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I am so proud to announce that The Atlas Society is bringing ten scholarship students to the International Students For Liberty Conference! ISFLC15 is at the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, D.C., February 13-15. The Atlas Society is a sponsor at ISFLC and we will feature a number of speakers and sessions.
Generous donors have made it possible for us to host ten bright, ambitious students who are looking forward to learning about Ayn Rand, Objectivism, capitalism, and freedom. Here are some of their stories.
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Trevor Hazen is a senior at Cornell College, double majoring in Economics & Business as well as Politics. Trevor has served on the Institutional Research Academic Advisory Committee where, he says, "[he has] seen first hand how regulation of institutions takes the time and resources of faculty away from actual students." Trevor says:
"America as a country has seen a degradation of liberties for common citizens. NSA spying revelations, spurred by Edward Snowden, highlight the desperate need for advocates of libertarianism and a redistribution of power from a coercive federal government to the civil society we currently occupy. As humans, we strive for happiness in life. It is my belief that each individual should be afforded the right to pursue his or her own interpretation of what constitutes personal contentment."
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Tanisha Canty is a senior and a Pre-Law and Politics major at Cornell College. She is a member of the College Republicans, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and the Mock Trial Squad. Tanisha says:
"I would like to attend this conference to explore more about Libertarianism because I feel it is a vastly underrepresented and misunderstood perspective in both the political and collegiate arenas. If I were able to attend this conference, I would be able to converse with like-minded individuals and hopefully bring back new ideas about how to promote Libertarianism to campus. Attending this conference would be informative about the true meaning of Libertarianism and aid me in my goal of pursuing my own views which expand beyond the realm of conservatism. Libertarianism, for me, distinguishes itself from other perspectives with its underlying premises about freedom to live one’s life and respecting the rights of others in the pursuit of that freedom."
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Chad Platt is a senior at a private high school in Sheridan, Oregon. Chad developed a strong global interest after spending a month on a plantation in Costa Rica and spending two weeks in Mexico. He plans pursue more global experience this summer by tutoring in Taiwan and working on houses in rural Peru. Chad says:
"I have attended more than one talk on Libertarianism, and I always find them insightful and captivating. I think there is so much more for me to learn on this subject, and I think ISFLC is a definite way to learn more. When I first heard about Libertarianism and Objectivism, I was immediately fascinated and wanted to learn everything I could about both. I'm reading both Atlas Shrugged and Anthem. I like both of these books because they convey very different ideas than any that I have gotten from other books. The ideas are far from the norm, and they are causing me to explore new ideas and philosophies and to evaluate them for myself.
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Sarah Kearns is a third-year undergraduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is studying biochemistry and taking extra math and physics courses to "further [her] understanding of nature and reality." Sarah says:
"I was introduced officially to the philosophy of Objectivism last year, but I have always held the tenets throughout most of my life so it made sense when it all came together as a single sense of life. When I first read Atlas Shrugged, it was indescribably life changing. My familiarity with libertarianism is similar; I’ve only had a little over a year of being aware of its existence but I support it. It was comforting to know that I am not alone; that there are philosophies and political views that I can fit into and that unite everything into universal concepts that are right and that could benefit the world. The reason why I want to come to this conference is to learn how I can help people realize that change can happen, and that the way things are isn't right, but that a right way exists and it can be pursued, and achieved."
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Ashton Welles is 16 and a high school senior in Oregon. Ashton says:
"My largest strength is my willingness and ability to do hard work. Using this ability, I was able to get a year ahead in school, and I will be finishing high school when I am sixteen. I found that my regular school program was not challenging enough for me, so I decided to take extra courses in math, science and economics. From all of my studies, I had a lot of ideas for potential careers. I considered everything from being an inventor to being a filmmaker. I decided, however, that I want to go to Wall Street to become an investment banker. I realized this after studying economics and learning how the stock market works. I plan on studying finance in college to prepare me for my career on Wall Street. With this career, I have the chance to help a lot of innovators raise money for their start-ups."
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Miles Drazkowski is primarily interested in a career as an engineer, but has an alternate focus on history, economics and government. He attends school in Oregon and will graduate this year. Miles says:
"I want to build the first permanent structure on another planet. To this end, I am pursuing a career in engineering. I am currently attending the Engineering and Aerospace Sciences Academy at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. I am also studying advanced Physics courses and Calculus at school.
I have taken part in a number of robotics competitions and made to state-level competition. These were team competitions. One of the many facets of the competition is that it involves a set of concept called the CORE values. The concepts cover teamwork, leadership, responsibility and sense of friendly competition. Part of the competition each year has a theme, where the teams investigate an area of human endeavor that is a current issue. Our group did a robotics project and presentation on bio-3D printing for medical purposes and explored ways to make the printing more efficient. From this I learned about presentation, research and the scientific process. "
Forwarding the creation of new innovations to improve conditions of living is my goal. Concepts like Jeremy Rifkin’s zero-marginal cost society and laissez faire capitalism have therefore caught my attention because of their rationality and alignment with innovation. I appreciate the unusual, and I often champion ideas outside of the norm. Needless to say, my inclination has always been and will always be a society based on logic and sound reasoning; that is what has truly driven me in my desire to create a better world.
Atlas Shrugged is the only book by Ayn Rand that I’ve read, but it was the most influential book I’ve ever read. The way that Rand writes does not force you to accept her view. Her writing warns of the dangers of socialism and her solution; that is what immediately hooked me. I relished John Galt’s radio speech and Francisco’s speech about the significance of money. While reading the book I saw that Rand’s philosophy was not so different from my own. Her views on societal organization into a libertarian or laissez faire social system largely coincide with my views.
The truth is I don’t know what I’ll find at the conference, but I do know that I’ll have my views challenged. I have LP.org on the news feed on my laptop, but I tend to study political ideologies on my own. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss these ideas with others. By developing my point of view, I plan to use my knowledge to create a free society and help carry it beyond this planet."
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Kasey Orthmann is a senior at a private high school in Sheridan, Oregon. He says:
"My priorities for academic program are to gain as many life skills as possible in the areas of leadership, planning/organization and logic; additionally, being able to learn anything I want to once I've finished school, raising a happy family and being able to educate others.
My main strengths are in art, as that is where my interest and career lay, but I am also strong in science, logic, political debate and music. My current positions of leadership are running the video production for external promotion for the school and editor of the Lower, Elementary and Middle School Yearbook.
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Violet Trammel is a senior in Sheridan, Oregon, intending to major in Forensic Science with a concentration in Chemistry. Violet says:
"I feel that I have very strong integrity among my classmates and family. I know what I know, and I'm not afraid to say it. I have always felt very different from others, but I've become confident in my beliefs. I have interests in many subjects, such as social studies, ethics and religion. I'm also very curious about how government fits in with humanity.
I will be attending college to pursue a degree in Forensic science. Criminal psychology is my passion. During the summer I led a Forensic Science Club for students fifteen or older. I wrote the curriculum, planned the lessons, organized the experiments and promoted the club. It was a pleasure teaching other students about my career interest. I have also become very passionate about America's current justice system, and how we can improve it.
I have read many books involving corrupt governments such as Atlas Shrugged, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Antigone and The Crucible. Before reading these books, I thought our government was great; I didn't feel like anything was wrong. But I have now come to realize that my liberty, as well as my children's liberty, is at stake. I want to educate myself more on this subject so I can make a difference for future generations."
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Thomas Cooke is a senior at Cornell College, majoring in history and minoring in Politics. Thomas says:
"I am a strong writer and communicator. I have a deep interest in law and public service. I am the Chair of Cornell’s College Republicans chapter, President of our Phi Alpha Delta chapter, and the Opinions Editor for The Cornellian student newspaper. I expect my future career to involve work as an attorney and then a later transition into work for the government. I have not yet decided in what area of government I would be able to do the most good, but my main concern is ensuring that the government does not become so powerful as to destroy the aspects of private life that government exists to protect.
I have read a number of Ayn Rand’s philosophical lectures in her book “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” I have also read John Galt’s 80-page monologue from Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand has said much that I agree with. What I found most inspirational in her work was her emphasis on the ability of individuals to achieve great things, and the importance of living in a society that allows them to do so.
I have been a libertarian since I first found out what the party stood for in sixth grade. I have always agreed with Thoreau’s sentiment that the government has not “of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.” As a high school debater who competed at the national level, I advocated libertarian principles in every argument I made. This past summer, as an intern for The Heritage Foundation, I watched Cato Institute interns with envy as they went to work every day advancing the kind of conservatism that I believe has a real future in the United States. And up until Election Day this November, I was campaigning for Rod Blum, a liberty-minded Republican businessman who just got elected Congressman for Iowa’s 1st District.
My interest in going to this conference stems from my interest in being surrounded by people who believe as I do, but have thought about it longer. I’m interested in hearing how their libertarianism might differ from mine, how they would respond to criticisms of libertarianism that I sometimes have difficulty answering, and how they would apply libertarian principles to contemporary problems. I also want to know what everyone has to say about Rand Paul, who I have met on a couple occasions and whose career is of great interest to me. Moreover, I want to attend the conference because politics is my passion and libertarianism is the driving force behind that passion. I love to learn about it, talk about it, and think about it. I truly want to see a libertarian revolution sweep the country and I believe that today’s youth comprise the generation that can truly accomplish that."
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Anna Kalkbrenner is a senior at Cornell College majoring in Politics and International Relations. She has served in the United States Marine Corps and hopes someday to work for the Cato Institute. Anna says:
"I am interested in politics in general and consider myself a libertarian. It is more than a political ideal to me, it is a solid philosophy that I wish to see embraced more fully in our country.
I served in the United States Marine Corps for five years as an Arabic linguist and worked near the beltway for eight years after that as a defense contractor. The government's role in our day to day lives is of great interest to me and something I am interested in pursuing after I graduate.
Attending this conference would be a very exciting way to be introduced to the people and organizations that play a role in promoting individual freedom in America."