STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Thaddeus Stevens Fellow Diego Salinas and the Creation of Wildcats for Life

Diego Salinas - 13 May 2024

At the beginning of my year as a Thaddeus Stevens Fellow in the National Leaders Collective, I was tasked with creating a new pro-life group at my high school in San Antonio. Little did I know my small start-up group would quickly become much more influential than I could have predicted.

LEARN MORE: National Leaders Collective

The first students I recruited would go on to tell me how scared they were to voice their opinions on this topic. They were afraid of being shunned and canceled, something they had witnessed from afar in other schools and the media. I realized that this club was not only advocating for the pro-life movement but also encouraging freedom of speech and the search for truth in life. It was a beacon of hope for all the students who felt their voices would never be heard.

Throughout the year, I have grown as a leader by seeing firsthand how vital the pro-life movement is to hidden conservatives. As I persevered through weeks of stalling and navigating obstacles, I also learned to maintain good momentum and continuously take steps forward in the task, regardless of how slowly I was forced to move.

Since a young age, I have been put in leadership positions encouraging me to be comfortable talking to people outside of my social circle. When tackling this project, I faced a new challenge: building a group from scratch in an environment that despises its foundational principles. With a liberal school watching my every move, I had to keep everything I was working on undercover until the club was ready for action. Most of my friends were kept in the dark while I got the group up and running, I didn’t want any attention to scare the school into shutting us down.

READ: Victory! Students for Life of America Group Settles Lawsuit Over Free Speech Censorship

Though there was hostility, there were many positive reactions. For example, our vice principal happened to be strongly pro-life and was thrilled to hear I was creating Wildcats for Life. I was also excited and honored to find out that my group is the first public school pro-life club in my city in over a decade. This accomplishment reminded me exactly why I signed up for the Thaddeus Stevens Fellowship in the first place: to truly make a difference in the movement and be a role model for all young pro-life advocates afraid to speak out.

None of the victories I enjoyed this year with my club would have been possible without the constant encouragement and friendship of my fellow peers in the Thaddeus Stevens Fellowship program.

“After the National Leaders Collective in Washington D.C., I knew I had made friends for life and people who I could always trust no matter the situation,” one fellow told me. “They were always there for me throughout the entire year, through every up and down.”

If there’s one thing I learned this year, I must continue to fight the good fight in the pro-life movement. I plan to do just that through the Students for Life Action (SFLAction) Captains Program and as the official president of Wildcats for Life. I can’t wait to take on the obstacles of the future and fight for the ones who can’t fight for themselves!

LEARN MORE: Become a State Captain

READ NEXT: STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: What Motivated William Wilberforce Fellow Marcelina Haas to be Actively Pro-Life

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