People often ask me how I came to be so conservative and politically involved in only 18 years.
Growing up in conservative Orange County certainly played a role in my political development, as did the influence of my parents and teachers. So did my experiences and contact with various political figures in my work with the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace.
Being a Republican was something that I never set out to be; it just happened. I first became interested in politics in the third grade, during the 1984 presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. In class, we talked about the candidates and the issues and I remember how much it interested me.
I wanted to learn more about politics and my parents became my main source of information. They did well answering my questions as objectively as possible, but I think their moderately conservative views still rubbed off.
As I entered junior high, I was presented with my first opportunity to discuss political issues with people other than my immediate family. My social science teachers strongly encouraged my interest and were always willing to serve as sounding boards.
I prefer discussing politics with those who possess open minds and show an interest in furthering their knowledge about the workings of government, regardless of their political affiliation.
I have learned, particularly in the past few years, however, that openly expressing one's conservative views can be an invitation to attack. The barbs often come from people who have become fed up with the domestic and foreign problems our nation has experienced. Yet, I have never had difficulty defending or justifying my beliefs--even though they have been, at times, unpopular.
My interest in politics developed as the summer of 1990 approached. The dedication of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace was set for that July. I wanted to be involved in the ceremonies, both because of the historic significance and because I wanted to assist in an event for Richard Nixon, who had become my favorite President after I learned about him during fifth grade.
After many phone calls, I became part of the volunteer staff for the event and a whole new world was opened to me. I suddenly found myself, a 14-year-old, involved with an event dominated by not only adults but also political figures. The overall effect the event had on me was tremendous, and I knew from that point on that this type of work was for me.
This summer marked my third year as a part-time employee of the library, an organization with which I am proud to be associated. During my three years I have been involved in many special events sponsored by the library and have had the opportunity to meet noted figures from the political arena, the entertainment industry, professional sports and many other walks of life.
I had the distinct honor of serving as an escort to President Nixon on three occasions, the last one in January, when the library celebrated the 25th anniversary of Nixon's first inauguration and announced plans for the Center for Peace and Freedom. The experiences I have had and the people I have met have certainly made my involvement in politics an eventful one.
I also contributed many hours to the Republican Party during the 1988, 1990 and 1992 campaigns for local, state or federal offices. I walked precincts and distributed campaign materials, posted signs and staffed phone banks at party headquarters in Yorba Linda.
My activity within the Republican Party has been rewarding in many ways, even though I never set out with any personal gain in mind. I became involved because I wanted to help in electing officials who could make a difference in the direction our society is headed. To me, the greatest reward for my time and effort is seeing those candidates elected to office. I could ask for nothing more.
Upon my graduation from college, I look forward to contributing further to our nation in some political capacity, whether it be as an elected official or as a campaign organizer. So long as I remain involved in the political world, I will feel as if I am doing my job. Only time will tell exactly what that job is.