Student activist, 18
The Riverview High School graduate helped lead a walkout this spring advocating for gun reform in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland. She sees herself as part of a growing group of young Americans who believe one of the best ways to show love for country is to have a frank conversation about how to improve it.
Interviewed by David Conway
"There’s no one prototype of an American. We’re such a melting pot of different races, ethnicities and cultures in general. It’s kind of redefining the idea of what being American it is."
"Patriotism is having love for one’s country. I think the textbook definition is, like, vigorous love for one’s country, which is easy to hold. But there’s a difference between patriotism, which is love for one’s country, and nationalism, which is the very skewed love for one’s country that can end up negatively impacting other people."
"For me, I think patriotism doesn’t just mean having love for one’s country in the sense that it is all right and just. There’s an idea with patriotism that’s kind of more conservative: The country is how it is, and it’s good that way."
"I think patriotism is looking at the flaws within your country and seeing how you can change them. For me, I was the leader of one of the walkouts at Riverview. Since then the organization has gained more momentum. ... The progressiveness of patriotism is a crucial aspect as well — bettering the community and the people around us."
"I would 100% make sure to emphasize there’s a lot to learn from the perspectives around us. Of course I have this perspective, but that’s because I was in school when the Parkland shooting occurred. From the time I was born to now, there have been mass school shootings. I hate to say it, but I’m guessing for years to come, there will probably be mass school shootings if we don’t do anything."
"While we’re open to other perspectives, don’t take the fact we want change as us being unpatriotic. I consider it one of the most patriotic things you can do is try to better your own country for the people who are in it. What better way to show love for a country than to improve it so it’s working at its maximum capacity?"
"I don’t think we’re as patriotic as earlier generations. We have experienced wars, but haven’t experienced anything that has been frontline, “We’re going to war; we’re getting drafted,” something like that. Maybe that would skew our viewpoints a lot. I know it did for the Baby Boomers; they’re a very patriotic group of people. I think that influences us a lot. We’re kind of questioning the norms you see in society, and we’re looking at how to change it for the better."
"I think it’s making the older generations uneasy, how much our younger generation is rethinking the norms we have instated. I think that makes people uneasy, as all change does. But I personally believe that all change is ultimately for the better."
"We know the United States isn’t, like, the top country in the world. To say that is ignorant on things like education and health care and so many things we can be improving to get on top. But I think if we have the set mindset that we are the best country in the world, we’re going to be stagnant. We’re not going to be doing anything, and we’re going to fall behind."
"It’s difficult. I would like to say those are conversations that could be had. I hope, if not now, I think they’re conversations we could have when we become the legislators, the senators, the presidents. It’s really dependent on how willing people are to listen."
"What I’ve noticed is people’s viewpoints and perspectives aren’t as different as they perceive the opposite side being. We polarize and take stances that are equal to our side of the wing, left or right — just because that’s what everyone else on the left or everyone else on the right is doing. We’re not really seeking our own opinions."