POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. —Michael Yelovich is a junior Political Science major at Marist College with a passion to positively impact the world. Upon evaluating the political landscape on campus, Yelovich noticed that many students found it difficult to firmly identify with either of the major political parties. He sought a group that provided a platform for students to speak openly about their opinions, no matter what political group they were affiliated with. In the spring of 2017, Sophomore Eric Johnson, who had the same goal in mind, approached Yelovich and together they started a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter at Marist.
Young Americans for Liberty is the largest and fastest-growing libertarian and conservative youth organization that was founded in 2008 by Ron Paul’s National Youth Coordinator, Jeff Frazee. In 2014 they had a total of 140 chapters spread throughout the United States. Since then, that number has experienced a sixfold increase with a current standing of 883 chapters. All members are given the opportunity to access the organization’s extensive network and resources, advance their careers and become more politically involved. They are the voices for liberty on their campus. According to YAL Executive Director, Cliff Maloney Jr., their goal is to identify, educate, train and mobilize youth activists committed to winning on principle.
Johnson began to bring YAL to Marist by filing a chapter with the National organization. Subsequently, Yelovich represented Marist’s chapter at the Young Americans for Liberty National Conference this past summer. As the Interim-President, Yelovich is responsible for conducting meetings and planning events with the other board members that include the VP, Secretary, Treasurer, and the Director of Outreach. Johnson drafts the club’s by-laws to be presented to the Student Government Association. Additionally, there are ten devoted members of the club which is projected to grow exponentially with the 140 plus individuals who expressed interest in YAL at the activities fair.
“YAL received a lot of positive feedback from the student body and faculty at the activities fair,” said Yelovich. “We rolled around a giant beach ball where people could write whatever they wanted. Many people have expressed their support of our group and what we plan to accomplish. They offered their support telling us that this is a group that is desperately needed in these divisive times.”
The Marist chapter conducts biweekly meetings in which members often engage in friendly debates about what is happening in the world. They also discuss upcoming activities and events they have planned like discussion panels between professors on campus to evaluate the First Amendment.
Still in its early stages, Yelovich and the rest of the board are focusing their efforts on growing and retaining a good amount of students hoping to double or even triple the current member count. They are also planning to invite guest speakers and host more events in the Spring. The overall goal is to encourage students to learn about and engage in the campus’s political scene and to better understand their rights.
Yelovich has always been passionate about having a positive impact on the world. It is one of the reasons that inspired his desire to provide an open platform for students to freely voice their political views on campus.
“My soul has been eternally called to help and fight for the betterment of the lives of others. I have known this for as long as I can remember,” said Yelovich. “When I was very young, five or six years old, on my birthday I had asked that I received no presents, only money that I could donate to a charity that desperately needed support. Since then I have volunteered in soup kitchens, homeless shelters and community organizations. I am not sure where my passion for politics grew from, but I have realized that working in a field where I can impact policy is one way for me to help others,” reflected Yelovich.
While he enjoys debating and discussing politics, Yelovich intends to pursue a career that is deeply involved in policy so that he can impact the lives of others and create a better world for us all. The Young Americans of Liberty chapter at Marist is a stepping stone to achieve that goal.