Rose Brugger is an undergraduate at Baylor University where she studies philosophy and political theory. She is the founder and president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) society at Baylor called “Sola Femina,” a campus group dedicated to discussing issues related to the concept of femininity during girls’ nights (in which chocolate and cookie dough feature heavily). She was also president of the ISI society “Convivium.” She is most interested in drawing on the insights of contemporary natural law action-theory to give an analysis of the factors contributing to a culture in which domestic minor sex-trafficking is highly prevalent. Rose hopes to attend graduate school in political theory, and afterwards to promote academic discussion about issues surrounding the hyper-sexualization of femininity in modern society.
- How did you find out about ISI? What drew you to get involved in ISI's programming?
My very first exposure to ISI was when I was three years old; ISI partially funded a year of my father's dissertation work in Germany. But I learned about ISI properly when I was in high-school from friends I had in university who were involved in their campus groups and publications. The training and support that ISI gives students committed to traditional ideals and values—to articulate their views clearly in often otherwise hostile environments—motivated me to apply for the programming and then seek its support in starting a group.
- If you had to choose one highlight of your undergraduate experience, what would it be?
Last fall, ISI funded our society SOFA to fly out professor Dr. Melissa Moschella from Columbia University to give a talk on transgenderism. The turnout was the highest we had ever had, the content was extremely informative, and the after-party was highly entertaining. Bringing together such a high quality of friends, ideas, and fun encapsulated the best of what I think university can be.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
Providing an opportunity to meet other students with well-developed sound positions on some of the most important issues in our society is one of ISI’s most valuable assets, in my view. I have met fellow ISI students at almost every conference, university, and country I have gone to, developing new friendships to an extent that would have been very unlikely without ISI’s network. Being part of ISI’s student community has opened up some of the most fruitful social interactions I have ever had.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
My first summer I attended the Hertog Program and then the ISI Summer Fellowship Program. Last summer I went to the Philippines and worked in a safe-house for young girls who had been victimized by sex-trafficking and domestic sexual abuse, doing investigative, legal, and aftercare work. This summer I will be working to open a safe-house for under-aged sex-trafficking victims near my university in Waco, Texas.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
At the risk of sounding cliché, without a doubt I admire my parents more than anyone. In addition to their utterly selfless care, my mother has provided an unparalleled example of strong and beautiful femininity within a society in which no examples are forthcoming. And my father’s example as a faithful academic engaged in some of the most serious social issues we are currently facing has given me the love and inspiration for academia and activism that drives my studies. Finally, the example of family life they have provided has given me a context within which I could come to understand my own identity within a world in which our “sense of self” has no grounding deeper than our current preferences.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
I would recommend finding a university in which you will receive a solid liberal arts education that will teach you how to think. If you are applying to one of the big Ivy League universities, I recommend at least looking first to see whether there are sound professors you can study with while there. Find the group of students there who will challenge and support you in developing your principles, which I have often found to exist within my university Church community. And then if there is an ISI society, join it. If there isn’t one, start one! It is incredibly draining to maintain and develop counter-cultural sound beliefs on one’s own, so finding and creating a community in which you can be supported and prepared to go out and articulate your ideas is essential.