Elle is a rising sophomore studying politics, philosophy, and economics at The King's College in New York City. Elle has interned with the Eric Metaxas Show and in U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks' district office, and is currently an Honors Scholar and society leader with ISI. This year, Elle will serve as Scholar for Kings' House of Margaret Thatcher, a community of women seeking to learn from the Iron Lady and to form a faith-deepening, gift-illuminating sisterhood founded in courageous love. After graduation, Elle hopes to earn either a Ph.D. in political philosophy or to gain a law degree and advocate for organizations that preserve the permanent things. She enjoys cooking breakfast food, reading books about America's founding, and singing along to showtunes.
- How did you find out about ISI? What drew you to get involved in ISI's programming?
Last fall, after I posted a quote from Roger Scruton on my Facebook page, a senior at King’s told me about an organization with which Dr. Scruton was associated. That organization was, of course, ISI! I paid the $10 membership fee and quickly began reading What is Conservatism? and the Intercollegiate Review. Almost immediately, my passions for politics, conservative thought, and American history gained depth, and I unearthed the awesome power of great ideas and heroic men. Last year, I never would have dreamed of being involved with ISI, but Providence had other plans—and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
- If you had to choose one highlight of your undergraduate experience, what would it be?
Other than holding a first edition copy of The Federalist at ISI headquarters, the highlight of my undergraduate experience has been participating in King's 2016 Interregnum debates. Each spring, King’s postpones classes for three days while Houses jockey for awards in writing, performing arts, public speaking, and artwork. The competition culminates in a series of debates, which allowed me to combine the West’s greatest ideas with cultural occurrences: I used Augustine and Aquinas to debate Little League scoring techniques, referenced the Rolling Stones in a round about missionary David Brainerd, and traced a history of the conservative movement to demonstrate the need to denounce Donald Trump. My partner and I advanced to the final round, attended by the entire student body in a gorgeous cathedral, and although we lost, attempting to persuade the crowd that the 22nd Amendment ought to be repealed ranks among the most joyous events of my life.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
Obviously, ISI offers a conservative education of inestimable value and does untold good in preserving the Good and True. However, what I value most about my ISI experience is the community in which I’ve been able to explore the permanent things. ISI invites students and professors alike to participate in its mission together. Through ISI and especially the Honors Program, I’ve met future world-changers with passions for everything from math to Jane Austen and a shared love for the questions that have animated men’s souls for centuries. Laughing with, learning from, and working in the trenches alongside the brilliant and kindhearted people in ISI’s platoon have taught me that perhaps preserving the West has as much to do with loving well and sharing life as it does with reading Cicero and Tocqueville.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
The summer after my freshman year, I interned with U.S. Representative Susan Brooks, an experience that granted me an inside peek into the world of agencies and Congressional legislation. I also began my year as an Honors Scholar at the East Coast Honors Conference, where I filled a notebook with thoughts on Aristotelian constitutionalism, the balance of freedom and virtue, and the Chevron doctrine. Perhaps most exciting of all, I finished 10 books, including Herodotus’ Histories and Frederick Douglass’ autobiography.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
William F. Buckley, Jr. is my hero! With love for faith, freedom, and country, Buckley boldly defended Truth, yelling 'stop' even in the face of near-universal opposition (whether from Yale or the Republican Party of NYC). His mischievous wit and impeccable vocabulary enabled him to introduce the conservative message to modern audiences, while his unshakable faith in the endurance of first things brought together many of conservatism's most astute and diverse minds. As conservatives today navigate a time that scoffs at ordered liberty and even America herself, Buckley's ability to unite the Right and courageously stand athwart history offers an example of how to find our way out of the wilderness.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Better your soul before you better the world. Read Burke, Augustine, and Hayek (and Kirk and Meyer if you want to lose sleep over some basic questions) to grasp differing strains of conservative thought. Read Marx and Keynes for a glimpse at the opposition. Seek out professors and professionals who can mentor you. Then, apply your knowledge in a way that is uniquely you (and not necessarily political), whether that means writing stories that elevate the soul, authoring editorials for the local paper, or hosting friends for dinner and a discussion about The Federalist. Most importantly, don’t forget that you cannot preserve liberty on your own; treat everyone, even those with whom you vehemently disagree, with love and respect, but do identify intellectually curious peers and encourage the development of one another’s souls, gifts, and knowledge. Joining ISI is a marvelous way to accomplish all of the above!