UH Republican chairwoman visits Reagan Ranch

People say visitors can still feel his presence on the ranch, either through the resonating antique train bell or the carved initials "NDR + RR."

It is Rancho del Cielo, or more commonly known as the Reagan Ranch, and UH Republican Chairwoman Rachel Coolidge has recently become re-inspired in her political passions and ideals since her journey back from California’s "Ranch in the Sky."

Coolidge, 21, was chosen among 30 students to participate in a national leadership conference for young conservatives.

Each year, the Young America’s Foundation, a group that advances conservative ideology to college and high school students across the nation, handpicks a number of students to attend Former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy’s ranch.

Coolidge, a political science junior, said the trip was a valuable experience.

"I was able to interact with college students who are doing amazing things on their campuses," Coolidge said. "Young America’s Foundation gave me great insight on how to be a better activist on my campus."

Spending time at Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo gave her the chance to interact with many well-known conservatives.

"I had the opportunity to spend time with and learn from people like John Barletta, John Ashcroft, Si Jenkins, Joel Surnow, Dinesh D’Souza, Kirby Wilber and Kate Obenshain," Coolidge said. "I also attended a leadership conference held by influential conservatives. I learned how to more actively promote conservative ideas on my campus."

Coolidge said the trip has helped her think about how to manage the UH Young Republicans next semester.

The UH Young Republicans expect to have more debates, speaking events and other political activities to "promote conservative ideas," she said.

"I am learning so much working with elected officials, candidates, the Republican Party and students," Coolidge said. "UH is a large, diverse campus and because of that, the College Republicans have the opportunity to impact a large, diverse group of students."

The Young America’s Foundation began at Vanderbilt University in the late 1960s by a group of students in order to counter a leftist-dominated campus, according to its Web site. The goal at the time was to give college students a chance to participate in conservative movements.

"Young America’s Foundation programs offer invaluable assistance to young men and women searching for the encouragement and understanding necessary to reinforce the values of a free society and individual responsibility," Reagan had said of the foundation.

In 1974, the Foundation started a national radio station, which featured the California governor at the time – Reagan.

On April 21, 1998, the Young America’s Foundation acquired Reagan’s Ranch in an effort to preserve a piece of history while continuing to promote conservative ideologies.

Visiting Reagan’s vacation spot gave Coolidge the opportunity to reflect on Reagan’s political career.

"Ronald Reagan is someone I admire greatly," Coolidge said. "I am in awe of his accomplishments: the restoration of the American economy, the American military and the American spirit."

Coolidge said she has been involved in politics from an early age, and has always felt as though politics is an important subject.

"Political decisions affect every part of our lives, and that fascinates me," Coolidge said. "The older I become, the more passionate I become about conservative ideas and promoting them for the rest of my life."

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