Though she’s a native of Trinidad and Tobago, American conservatism has always been a passion for Arrianne Talma, whose love for the American founding found a natural home in the land of Thomas Jefferson. As a freshman at the University of Virginia, Arrianne hit Grounds running, quickly teaming up with the leading conservative voice at UVa, the ISI Collegiate Network–affiliated Virginia Advocate. Now a junior, Arrianne has become the Advocate’s editor in chief, expanding the reach of intellectual conservatism to thousands of students at UVa in print and online.
ISI recently caught up with Arrianne to talk about her experience as a student leader, her recent Collegiate Network summer internship with Red Alert Politics, and her hopes for the future.
- How did you get involved with ISI?
In my first semester at the University of Virginia, I became involved with the Virginia Advocate, a publication sponsored by ISI’s Collegiate Network. I first worked as a staff writer and managing editor and worked my way up to the role of editor in chief in spring 2013. I was drawn to ISI’s programming because I loved its mission to educate the next generation of liberty-minded leaders.
- What has been the highlight of your undergraduate experience?
Without a doubt the highlight of my undergraduate experience has been my involvement with the Virginia Advocate and all the interactions that I’ve had with the Collegiate Network and ISI, including attending the CN Start the Presses Conference, the CN Editors Conference, and ISI’s American Freedom Institute and interning for the Collegiate Network at Red Alert Politics in Washington, D.C.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
Some of the fondest memories of my college experience were the debates I had and the perspectives I’ve been exposed to at the ISI conferences I’ve attended. Moreover, as an international student, ISI provided me with the resources to learn new ideas and question the status quo. I now have the intellectual grounding to question mainstream ideas that are so prevalent in my generation, and I am able to provide a forum in which I can debate ideas that are otherwise overlooked in my college education.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
During my first summer in college, I attended two Leadership Institute trainings: the Political Activism Boot Camp and the Youth Leadership School. I also attended the Collegiate Network’s Start the Presses Conference, which equipped me to take on the role of editor in chief of the Virginia Advocate. I was also blessed to return home to visit my family in Trinidad and Tobago.
Most recently, I spent the summer as a Collegiate Network intern working at Red Alert Politics in Washington, D.C. I also attended an ISI conference, the American Freedom Institute.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
I look up to my older brother, Luke Talma. Through the many trials that he has gone through, he remains a pillar of strength and hope built on his faith. He is a leader among his peers, the anchor of my family, and a testament to the power of faith.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Don’t be afraid to speak up and challenge the status quo around your campus. It could be the case that your peers simply have not heard opposing views or given them adequate thought. I’ve found that it’s constructive to take part in informal discussions with your peers where you can go back and forth. Being approachable, agreeable, and willing to hear other points of view can help you build relationships, take part in civil discourse, and share the principles of liberty.
- What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduating in spring 2015, I am planning to enroll in a yearlong MS in commerce program at the University of Virginia. Upon completing my master’s degree, I hope to apply for the Collegiate Network’s yearlong fellowship program. After working as a journalist, I would like to pursue an MBA and eventually run my own publication.