Derek Draplin was raised in Plymouth, Michigan, and was educated at the University of Michigan, where he served as editor in chief and publisher of the ISI Collegiate Network newspaper the Michigan Review. Derek also contributes to The College Fix, where he has broken multiple major stories that have been picked up by Fox News, the Drudge Report, National Review, Reason, and many other media outlets. He was a Student Free Press Association fellow at the Detroit News, where he reported on city and state politics, education, and community events. After graduating in the spring of 2015, Derek began a yearlong a ISI Collegiate Network fellowship at the Daily Caller, where he serves as associate editor.
Derek was happy to take some time out of his summer to share his ISI experience with us.
- How did you get involved with ISI?
I found out about ISI by simply surfing the interweb. I was specifically looking for an organization that was conservative and could feed my scholarly appetite. And ISI has been above and beyond any community I could have hoped for.
- What was the highlight of your undergraduate experience?
Getting on Fox News, of course. But not just me: multiple Michigan Review staff members were on in the past year for the stories they broke. Collectively, we brought a contrarian voice (and truth) to the University of Michigan—and happened to have a national audience on multiple occasions. It was a lot of fun.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
The people I’ve met and the community I’ve gained. I can practically go to any major city or university in the country and find at least one student who’s also a member of ISI, who I can be assured has similar intellectual interests as I—it’s truly a fellowship.
- How have you spent your summers?
The first couple summers I did what most don’t—I stayed home and worked a local job. My last couple summers I traveled somewhat, thanks to ISI: I attended several ISI conferences across the nation, reading new books and discussing them with new people. It was both a geographical and intellectual exploration.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
In the conservative sphere, it’s definitely Russell Kirk. I like to brag that Dr. Kirk and I share a hometown, and that’s how I found out about him. But what’s engaging about him is the way he put life into a dying movement with a historical work on intellectual thought. And from there on, his career was equally impressive (and I’d argue his fiction significantly underrated). The breadth of his work was done from his nostalgic homestead up in northern Michigan. Mrs. Kirk still welcomes students there during ISI conferences. It’s a trip that all students should make! I also love Hemingway because nearly all his work reflects the timeless relationship between masculinity and nature.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Learn to write well—polish that up, then work on your oratory next. This process should never really end. Think Buckley here: His wit and eloquence brought him many friends, even on the Left. Don’t try and be him—he’s one of a kind—but familiarize yourself with the body of his work.
My biggest key to success on campus was joining the newspaper. My advice to editors: Find the right balance between being prudent and antagonistic when dealing with campus progressives. That means not only telling them they’re wrong but also giving them ideas. It’s necessary if we are to reform campus to be more conducive to principles of freedom. You also have to place yourself in the trenches. You can’t really fight for the true, the tried, and the beautiful things in life when you are surrounded only by those who agree with you.
- What are your plans after graduation?
I plan on working in journalism for the time being. I have so many interests, though; I still don’t have my mind set on one career or track. Fingers crossed, I’ll end up speechwriting or on an island somewhere warm.