“For most of my life, I had never really been involved in anything political. I did not know much about political things, did not do a lot of research, nor did I keep myself up to date,” Tariku said. “I didn’t even label myself as conservative or liberal until this year because I had just thought it did not matter which side I was on because I could not vote, so why should it matter.”
Tariku, a native of Arlington, Virginia who will be starting in September to study government and public policy, said her experience at the Retreat helped her see how the beliefs she always held actually aligned with conservative ones, even if not all of her peers held those same views.
“It wasn’t until I went to the NeW leadership Retreat that I got to really look deeper into politics and my political beliefs and realize for a majority of my life I had just been a closet conservative,” she said. “I think part of the reason I had always been in the closet about my political beliefs was that a majority of the people I surrounded myself with did not share the same beliefs, so I never spoke up about it much. I realize that my moral/ethical and political beliefs mostly lined up with those of conservatism. But I really would not have realized nor labeled myself as a conservative woman until the retreat this past month.”
Tariku heard about the Retreat from her high school counselor at Bishop Ireton High School. In addition to learning more about conservatism and what it means to be a conservative woman, she said she learned much more about many topics she had not explored before and learned to support her arguments better.
“I learned that I am not alone and it is okay to be a woman and be conservative. That I did not have to just go along with what others said and that there is more to both sides of the spectrum that I never knew about,” Tariku said. “Yes, I have received some backlash for my political views, even before I had identified as any particular side, but it is just something that I have come to realize that I will experience in the real world and that instead of backing down because my beliefs did not align with others, to stand up rather for what I believe and fight harder.”
Tariku is looking forward to starting college this fall and is thrilled to learn more about American history in Williamsburg. She also is eager to expand her education as she prepares for law school after completing her undergraduate degree.
“It is a completely different chapter in my life with so much in store that I cannot wait for, nor can experience at any other time in my life,” she said.