Image Credits: University of North Carolina

From the moment that I stepped foot on campus, I knew that UNC was the place for me. However, from tearing down confederate statues to political bias in grading, UNC has proved to be a progressive campus. I was told time and time again that UNC would “turn me into a liberal.” Chapel Hill has been my second home for more than a year, and I have only become more conservative. On a very liberal college campus, I have been able to explore ideas, learn how to debate and support my opinions, been encouraged to speak up and speak out, interview about hot topics on campus, develop life-long friends, and of course, enjoy the entertainment brought to me by none other than raging leftists.

After arriving at UNC, I wondered how I would ever find my niche or fit in on such a liberal college campus. I am here to tell you that I will never fit in with many of my fellow students. But because I don’t fit the stereotype of a typical UNC student, I have been given many opportunities and experienced a tremendous amount of growth throughout my time at UNC.

Because my college campus is a melting pot of ideas and opinions, I was given the opportunity to explore a plethora of ideas–many of them contradictory to my beliefs. If I were going to pursue other opinions, this would have been the time to do so. I have had arguments from all sides shoved down my throat and still found peace in what I held to be true. Because a majority of these opinions were contradictory to my own, I learned how to debate and support my opinions. If I attended a conservative school, I do not believe that my debate skills and ability to back up my opinions would be nearly as developed. I quickly ingrained facts into my mind that I would later use to debate peers in a 300 person lecture hall or in student government meetings.

Organizations such as Future Female Leaders encouraged me to speak up and speak out on my college campus. It did not matter if I was unlike everyone else in my political beliefs–it was still important to speak out. If I was unsure about how to navigate the waters of debating or carrying on a conversation with a professor, I knew that I would be able to find an FFL article that would help me out. Because I represent a small portion of the student body in that I am a conservative student, I have been given the opportunity to speak out about issues on campus through various platforms.

I have found life-long friends through conservative groups and clubs on campus. Because these groups are small, I have truly been able to get to know each member by name and have found some great friends. In a club of 500 people, I never would have been able to do this. College Republicans and Turning Point USA groups have led me to some of my greatest friends and always allow for a fun environment to discuss political happenings with like-minded people. These groups are great for whenever I just want to talk politics somewhere where I won’t be attacked for my views.

Lastly, who doesn’t love the sheer comedy of screaming leftists and raging liberals? Maybe I was naive, but I have seen some crazy meltdowns that I only thought happened on the internet. These meltdowns confirmed that some of my fellow peers, and even professors, represent the kind of character that I do not strive to have.

Each day, I am thankful for the opportunity to attend a beautiful, and academically rich university. While I don’t necessarily fit in, I have found my own way to fit who I want to become. Without UNC, I wouldn’t be the individual that I am today. I’ve made it through three semesters and still have not been “turned into a liberal.” I would bet that I will graduate even more conservative than I am now. So, if you think that you’re going to turn me into a liberal, you’re going to have to keep trying.