The following article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the MCFL News magazine, a perk of membership mailed out quarterly to all members.
How did your growing up affect your pro-life formation?
I'm originally from Norwood, the oldest of four siblings. Being raised as a devout Catholic with a core group of family and friends, the notion of community was ingrained in me at a young age. In sixth grade, I read an article on sex-selection abortion in China. My understanding grew of what was going on. The roots took. The idea that everybody has a right to life isn't just what I believe. It's a part of who I am.
You talked about school pro-life clubs to the students at the Summer Academy
I had attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. with my aunt. Then, in my sophomore year at Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, I started attending our pro-life club. I became co-president my senior year. Our club would pray and witness at the abortion facility Four Women. We raised money for Abundant Hope, a pregnancy resource center. We had a full bus going to the March for Life. The club laid the foundation for me to understand how to speak to members of my generation who don’t share the same perspective. I learned how to speak respectfully and logically and to be prepared with pro-woman, compassionate answers.
What was the Oratory Contest experience like?
I choose the topic of the slippery slope between doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia because I wanted to have a topic different from abortion. MCFL’s Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson Oratory Contest is for juniors and seniors, though it’s good practice for younger students. You can choose topics on a variety of life issues. My research included the use of reliable internet sources. I had to comb through articles and read the studies cited.
Going to compete at finals at the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) Convention was awesome. I had so much fun meeting contestants from all over the country. I was amazed at how everyone was so well prepared and professional.
I was fine until two minutes before my speech and then I was shaking and sweating. I stumbled a little bit. It's about pushing through the nervousness. You get past that hurdle, and then you know you've done it once and you can do it again. You become a good public speaker by pushing through that wall, keeping calm, and focusing on what you have to do.
How did MCFL's involvement in the Oratory Contest help you?
I heard about the contest through a friend at Bishop Feehan who thought I would be interested. My first year, MCFL let me practice as a sophomore. Being the contest winner and going to Washington was a wonderful experience. Anne Fox was fantastic and took care of all the details.
I’m so grateful to have had a chance to participate at Nationals, where you know all the contestants believe the same things. It’s heartwarming to know normal people are in the fight with you.
You have a pro-life club at college
I’m currently a communications major at High Point University in North Carolina. My school has a very small pro-life club. The problem with this issue for young adults is that people get fired up about it one way or the other. You turn people away at this level if you get seen as confrontational. You have to approach it in a gentle, yet persistent, manner and be able to frame the issue in a way that is most receptive to your audience. We use science and reason to show that abortion and assisted suicide are wrong.
Just recently, a girl emailed the former president of the club. She was pregnant and wanted to come back to school, but didn't know if she had the resources. That was awesome because it coincided with our club’s petition drive asking our school to provide resources for mothers and fathers on campus. When she reached out to us, it was a validation of the work that we do – even if we think it's not working, or think no one is listening, or that you're not doing anything – there are people who are listening and seeing what you are doing. Even if people don't reach out right away or never reach out, you’ve got that idea that there’s another option besides abortion planted in their minds. It may be because they saw you with your feet pin, or at a bake sale. People hear a positive message that you can attend school and have a child, especially when everyone else is telling them they can't do it. This is an awesome affirmation of that the value of standing up for life, to get the feedback that the work we are doing is invaluable.
What is your dream job?
I’ve honed my skills with another public-speaking class in college. I’m in my second year at college, though I plan to graduate in three years instead of four. My future career or ideal job is to create documentaries on social issues involving the prison system, the educational system, and life issues, such as abortion and euthanasia.