Michelle Creek knew she had strong values while growing up on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington. She just wasn’t sure how to label them.

“I was raised in a conservative Christian home, so that really framed a lot of the issues for me, at least in terms of social issues,” Creek told The Heritage Foundation. “But it wasn’t probably until high school and college that I realized there’s a lot more to being conservative.”

As the 21 year old finishes up her last semester at Whitworth University, a private, liberal arts school in Spokane affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Creek is more confident than ever in the virtues of conservatism. Yet after spending the last several years on a college campus, she’s concerned that many students automatically assume liberalism is the best fit for their generation.

“I don’t think [Whitworth] is a liberal school, but certainly I have found, maybe because of the public school system, that students are generally more liberal,” Creek said. “It seems that conservative ideas are foreign to some students.”

Creek, who is majoring in political science, is particularly passionate about two issues that Hollywood relentlessly preaches about to young people in films and TV shows.

“I’ve always been pro-life and always believed that the sanctity of marriage is between a man and a woman,” she said. “I feel really strongly about that.”

Even though her views on these subjects won’t get her invited on MTV anytime soon, she is taking a principled stand.

“I find myself very frustrated with people my age because we’re just allowing popular culture and media to spoon feed us, and we’re not researching before deciding what to believe,” Creek added.

With her December graduation quickly approaching, Creek faces the worst job market of her lifetime. As she considers several options, including law school, Creek is confident the right path will present itself. Still, she knows it won’t be easy.

“I’m absolutely concerned,” Creek said. “I find myself wondering if I should stay in school, because of the economy, even though I would incur more debt.”

While Kennewick’s recent ranking by Forbes Magazine as the second best city for job creation in the nation can certainly inspire the young job seeker, a recent experience helped Creek realize that she would eventually like to trade Washington State for Washington, D.C. On a trip to the nation’s capital during a 2009 Fellowship, she visited The Heritage Foundation for the first time.

“I was so impressed with Heritage and so drawn to it,” she recalled. “I told myself ‘I have to come back here,’ so I did some more research into the internship program and decided that was my best shot.”

After spending this past summer working with Heritage’s Young Leaders program, Michelle Creek has set an ambitious goal for the next decade of her life. She wants to become a leading voice for young conservatives, and help present people her age with clear choices as they develop their belief systems.

“Much progress in the wrong direction happens in younger years. My wish is that young people become more aware of how their actions affect the lives of others. “

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