Fellowship Weekend: “This generation will end abortion with love”

By Carson Macik, Reicher Catholic High School, Class of 2018.

A rising force to be reckoned with, the Millennial generation has made it clear that they are not in favor of abortion, rejecting it in all or most cases by 53%, according to the Institute for Pro-Life Advancement. High school and college students from Oregon to Maine represented the nationwide pro-life sentiment through the Thaddeus Stevens and William Wilberforce Fellowships weekend training and will be continuing to learn from pro-life leaders throughout this school year.

As a Stevens Fellow myself, I cannot express how much energy and passion I found in my newly-made friends towards the goal of abolishing abortion. Stories like Norvilia Etienne’s courageous stand against her college barring a pro-life club on her campus, or Marcos Sanchez starting his group in a little town in Oregon despite pushback from his high school, are inspirational to everyone in this ever-expanding movement!

With a plethora of different backgrounds, experiences, and talents, SFLA Fellows convened both Friday and Saturday mornings to begin seminars for the day covering a variety of topics from conversational suggestions with pro-choice advocates to leadership management strategies and techniques.

Perhaps the most intense and engaging of all seminar speakers, Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA, made an appearance Saturday morning and spoke on the history of the pro-life movement, which was accompanied by an occasional burst of joyful laughter in response to her clear passion and dedication for the movement.

Fellows went from 9am to 8pm talking about revolutionary solutions to a myriad of obstacles and challenges within pro-life clubs, political organizations, and the movement as a whole.

All throughout the weekend, one thing was clear: my friends and Fellows are going to change America.

The leadership I saw and vigor I felt from every member cannot be summed up in an article. They truly possessed an unbridled joy for protecting human life that can only be divinely inspired; something so powerful and potent is truly going to move mountains.

Beside me in the conference room, I saw future pro-life presidents, CEOs, and government representatives. I saw artists, engineers, lawyers, and doctors. But, most of all, I saw hope. Before the Fellowships began, the future looked uncertain, unstable. Now, I know with certainty, that this generation will end abortion with love and compassion and conversation.

These students, my friends, are representative of a new voice that will ask “when”, not “if”, abortion is abolished and that will put abortion where it belongs – in the history books.

In summary, this convention of diverse and determined students from across the country has, in two days of planning, unraveled hundreds of years of myths surrounding abortion and planned its demise through a grassroots movement more impactful than any other social movement in history.

We millennials have spoken. Abortion has got to go and the process has already begun.

Sen. and Mrs. Santorum Honored with Wilberforce Leadership Award

Students for Life of America (SFLA) was pleased to honor Senator and Mrs. Rick Santorum with the 2013 William Wilberforce Leadership Award at the 6th annual SFLA Summer Social on July 25th.

Sen. Santorum gave a particularly passionate and inspirational speech that can be watched below:

“Karen and I are both deeply committed to life at every stage, and are grateful that Students for Life of America has chosen us for this award,” said Rick Santorum.  “The Declaration of Independence states that we are endowed by our Creator ‘with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’  Life is first for a reason.  Because without life, no other rights matter.  We believe that every life has value and every life must be protected.”

“The lives of Sen. and Mrs. Santorum exemplify what it means to be pro-life, in word and deed. Sen. Santorum was a pro-life leader in Congress for over a decade and, with his wife Karen, set an amazing example of the sanctity of human life with the love they showed their son Gabriel, who was born and passed at 20 weeks, and their daughter Bella, who was born with Trisomy 18 and is now a beautiful 5 year old,” said SFLA President Kristan Hawkins.

“From the political to the personal, the Santorums are tireless advocates for Life, never wavering from their pro-life commitment to honoring each and every human life. I couldn’t think of a more deserving couple for the 2013 William Wilberforce Leadership Award. It is a joy to recognize such exemplary pro-life leaders who are at the forefront, just like Wilberforce himself, of the modern-day abolitionist movement.”

The Wilberforce Leadership Award is named for the British social justice and human rights activist, William Wilberforce, who led the fight to abolish the slave trade and was successful in helping to end slavery in Great Britain. SFLA awards two pro-life leaders each year who, like Wilberforce, are working to create and uphold laws that will eventually abolish the greatest human rights threat our nation faces, abortion.

A native of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012. Prior to running for President, Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007. He wrote and championed legislation that outlawed the heinous Partial Birth Abortion procedure as well as the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and the “Combating Autism Act” because he believes each and every individual has value and the most vulnerable in our society need to be protected.

In June, 2012 Rick and his wife of 23 years, Karen, launched Patriot Voices, a grassroots and online community of Americans committed to promoting faith, family, freedom and opportunity. Rick and Karen are the parents of seven wonderful children. Their youngest daughter, Isabella, was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, and wasn’t expected to survive her first birthday.  Beating all the odds, Bella celebrated her 5th birthday in May of 2013 and is a joyful and loving little girl.  Bella’s miraculous life has only strengthened Rick and Karen’s belief in the dignity of each of every life.

Stevens and Wilberforce Leadership Fellowships Launch

This past weekend, Students for Life of America launched the first Thaddeus Stevens Leadership Fellowship (for high schoolers) and the 4th William Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship (for college students) with a kick-off Leadership Training Retreat at SFLA national headquarters in Manassas, Virginia.

The students were able to all join together for the first time to meet, network, and get training on pro-life apologetics, leadership, and activism led by SFLA staff, Mike Spencer and Jay Watts of the Life Training Institute, blogger Jill Stanek, Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life, and Seth Drayer of Created Equal.

Throughout the 2013-14 school year, the Fellows will be applying the leadership skills they learned on their campus and throughout their communities by organizing events, assisting Students for Life of America in its mission of equipping the pro-life generation, and working with their National Wilberforce Mentor (a leader of an existing national pro-life organization) who will help network them with the national pro-life movement and assist in completion on their Fellowship Projects.

SFLA’s prestigious Stevens and Wilberforce Leadership Fellowships aim to raise up the next generation of pro-life leaders. We want to train student pro-life activists to be leaders on campus (and beyond) and to network those student leaders with their counterparts in the national pro-life movement to help further develop their skills and prepare for a career in the pro-life movement.

Wilberforce2013Meet the 2013-14 Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship Class

Annaleigh Atiyeh, LaSalle University, 2015
Major: Religion/Secondary Education
Wilberforce Mentor: Brendan O’Morchoe, National Director of Field Operations, Students for Life of America

Cera McCarragher, Purdue University, 2015
Major: Business Management, Spanish Minor
Wilberforce Mentor: Joe Young, Executive Director, Operations & Strategic Initiatives, Heroic Media

Claire Chretien, University of Alabama, 2015
Major: BA in Communication-Public Relations and American Studies, minor in Creative Writing
Wilberforce Mentor: Troy Newman, President, Operation Rescue

Connor York, Oregon State University, 2016
Major: Political Science, Spanish, International
Wilberforce Mentor: Dan McConchie, Vice President of Government Affairs, Americans United for Life

Courtney McEachon, Yale University, 2015
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Wilberforce Mentor: Mary Catharine Maxian, M.D.

Deanna Candler, LSU School of Law, 2015
Juris Doctorate
Wilberforce Mentor: Jeanneane Maxon, Vice President of External Affairs & Corporate Counsel, Americans United for Life

Katie Worley, Washington University, 2016
Major: Economics and Strategy (Business)
Wilberforce Mentor: Mike Spencer, Midwest Director of Training, Life Training Institute

Lisa Atkins, Boise State University, 2014
Major: Health Science/Pre-PA, minor in French
Wilberforce Mentor: Rebekah Barnes, Northwest Regional Coordinator, Students for Life of America

Rachel Bush, University of Texas, 2014
Major: Journalism
Wilberforce Mentor: Jill Stanek, Blogger, Jillstanek.com

Rachel Eldridge
Indiana Wesleyan University
Strategic Communication and Leadership Studies
Jeanne Monahan
President, March for Life Education and Defense Fund

Samantha Sweet, University of Alabama-Birmingham, 2014
Major: Exercise Science
Wilberforce Mentor: Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life of America

Zachary Hoopes, Virginia Tech, 2016
Major: Business Management, minor in Business Leadership
Wilberforce Mentor: Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions, Human Life International


Meet the 2013-14 Stevens Leadership Fellowship Class

Connor, St. Paul, Minnesota

David, Charleston, AR

Gabriel, Sunbury, OH

Hope, Kalispell, MT

Kaitlynn, Tucson, Arizona

Margaret, Leesburg, VA

Sam, Branford, Connecticut