Written By: Gabrielle Albrecht
“Chelsea Patterson is coming to OUR school!” This was the thought that I had while jumping up and down after our chapter President, Clare told me who our guest speaker was going to be.
I first found out about Chelsea when I found her on Instagram through a tag search for something about a year ago. I was immediately intrigued by her passion for life. I then started becoming a regular reader of her “Chats with Chels” and keeping up with her Instagram stories. As I learned more about her, I became inspired by her faith, her ability to approach things with grace, her realness, and of course, her desire to stand for her beliefs. When she came to SUNY New Paltz on a windy day in April, I didn’t realize that the person I had been admiring for so long could get anymore genuine.
At SUNY New Paltz, being a conservative isn’t popular. This can create animosity between liberal thinkers and conservative thinkers. Before joining the New Paltz chapter of NeW, I had been challenged on what I believed. I was starting to feel exhausted with trying to stick with my beliefs all while pleasing liberal professors in my studies and make friends on a liberal campus. The thing I didn’t do was ask myself the hard question of why I believed everything I did. Granted, I had a few issues I was solid on, but the rest was like a wave in the ocean with no sure place to go. When I met Clare and got involved with NeW, I was challenged even more to know what I believe and stand for those beliefs. That was when everything changed for me. Then I met Chelsea Patterson in person.
The genuineness she displayed was beyond real. She greeted everyone with a sweet smile, yet when it came time for her to talk, she spoke with passion and strength. If I could summarize her talk into one word, I would use the word humanity. The idea of civility and excellence in work really stood out as she spoke. To be a human is to understand that there are other humans in this world. We will agree and disagree with others. We are put to the test of our own humanity when we are faced with opposing sides. The desire to fight for what we believe in, no matter how true or misguided, often clouds our ability to see that we fight other human beings. These human beings are also fighting for what they believe in, no matter how true or misguided. That is where Chelsea staked out the idea of being civil to others. Rather than fighting, creating common ground through established principles – for example, the Declaration of Independence – appeals to the idea of civility.
She used another point about using your voice in a different way. Fighting for the rights of those who cannot speak, no matter their differing beliefs, is not only doing the “right thing,” but also being human. Chelsea’s passion to see an end to human trafficking was weaved throughout her talk. As she referred back to it, I began to see the connection she was making. To put it simply, she was challenging those listening to treat humanity with dignity, not matter what.