By Wendy (Tzu-Shu) Shyu
Megan Powers, Vice President of College Republicans at New York University, is a twenty-one-year-old student with experiences and insights more abundant than her peers. Not only is she the VP of a Republican club at a university known to be left-leaning, busying herself with arranging speakers and events, but also the president of a sorority.
Growing up as the only girl and the youngest of four siblings, Megan had been restricted by various rules just because she was not old enough, or “boy enough to play with [her] brothers”. “I know how hard it is to fight against something that you can’t change,” as Megan says. It is this experience that made her understand how important equality is, which later affected her political views.
During the campaign of 2008 presidential election, Megan overheard her friends discussing presidential candidate John McCain at lunch time. They were commenting negatively on McCain and stated that no one should ever vote for him. Not knowing much about politics back then, Megan consulted her teacher the percentage of votes McCain might get. As the teacher responded about half of the country, “I remember thinking there’s no way that everything he says is entirely stupid because if half the country is going to vote for him, then there must be some merit there and there must be some things that those boys at the lunch table didn’t know about,” as Megan recalls.
As she describes this as “fighting for the underdog,” Megan started arguing against her friends. “I wasn’t really doing it because I necessarily believed in these ideologies, I just thought that it was necessary for them to be said and heard.” This was when Megan truly discovered her love for politics.
Bearing this passion, Megan volunteered on a state senate campaign in 2011. Walking around under the sun and knocking on each door to advocate her candidate in mid-summer, Megan’s passion for politics soon tired out. “After that, I said I was done [with politics]. I hated it. I was gonna come to NYU and I was gonna study film and television.” However, her resentment did not last long. After two to three months, she realized that politics is what makes the world a stable and happy place: “That’s when I knew that even though I kind of hated it, I was merry to do it forever.”
During her first year of college, Megan’s parents wanted her to participate in a club to make friends. Knowing that her parents are Republicans, she decided to join both College Republicans and College Democrats. It is through these two clubs that made certain of her right-leaning political views. “I still don’t like identifying myself starkly as a Republican because I think that people have all these preconceptions of the term ‘Republican,’” says Megan.
She does not see herself as a total conservative, as there are certain views that she holds that leans towards the liberal side. Megan believes that people have equal rights to personal choices on certain topics, such as gay marriage and abortion. However, she also states that the government should stay out of social issues like this unless it has to interfere.
Although holding her strong political beliefs, Megan is very humble and admits that she can be wrong at times. Therefore, she believes that it is very important to stay modest and respect others with opposing opinions: “If you say something in a respectful manner, and you’re willing to listen, people give you a mutual respect that you give them.”
The only time Megan encountered an unpleasant experience on campus was when a professor refused to respect her political stance and insisted on making the whole class participate in Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Ultimately, Megan had to talk to the professor’s supervisor in order to resolve this disagreement.
College Republicans is a club that holds more than 1400 members with only around 40 people showing up per meeting. Megan, as the VP, has been working on recruiting more active members, taking parts in political debates against College Democrats, and inviting guest speakers.Their most recent speaker is Rob Astorino, a Republican politician running in Westchester County, New York. Megan’s vision for the club is to raise more political awareness on campus, especially to those who think they are more politically informed than they actually are.
Currently studying political strategies, law, marketing, and branding, Megan hopes to work in politics, with plans to run for offices like county government or even Congress within the next 15 years. She will maintain her humbleness, using her personal experiences to inspire more people and her passion for politics to make her country a better place.