Alise Alexander - Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free.

Alise Alexander

FURMAN UNIVERSITY, Class of 2016

Things to know about Alise

Alise is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and grew up in a community focused on family, faith, and Cajun French heritage. She will graduate with a French degree from Furman University this May. She has rounded out her undergraduate experience with elective courses in politics, religion, and philosophy. Although she is unsure where her education may lead after graduation, her priorities are to continue growing intellectually and spiritually, and to return the warm weather down in the bayou.

“ISI conferences have a way of creating community in such a short time, community that goes deeper than the mere colleague or classmate relationship, and that sense of community allows for richer and more open conversation.”

How did you find out about ISI?

I learned about ISI through the Tocqueville Program at my university. Through the Tocqueville Program, I participated in a political thought reading group, colloquia on contemporary issues discussed through the lens of political philosophy, and courses in political philosophy. The program introduced me to professors and fellow students with whom I could pursue serious intellectual discussions in a conservative-friendly forum. My professors saw how much I enjoyed our discussions and longed for more, so they recommended ISI to me. Getting involved with ISI has helped me connect with deep-thinking students across the country and has challenged me in my own pursuit of truth.

What was the highlight of your undergraduate experience?

During my sophomore year, I took a course and lecture series called “Tocqueville and the American Republic.” Each spring, the Tocqueville Program offers a course addressing a theme in political philosophy paired with a series of lectures from scholars whose work is pertinent to the theme, and this was the signature course for that year. The entirety of the course was spent moving slowly through Democracy in America and reading contemporary essays that touched on issues addressed by Tocqueville. I had never before spent an extended period of time with one book, moving meticulously through the text in order to best grasp the author’s perspective. The experience inspired my interest in studying political philosophy further and ultimately led to my involvement with ISI.

What have you valued most about ISI?

While ISI conferences consistently offer engaging and thought-provoking lectures and discussions, I have most enjoyed the fellowship that I have found in the other students. ISI conferences have a way of creating community in such a short time, community that goes deeper than the mere colleague or classmate relationship, and that sense of community allows for richer and more open conversation.

How have you spent your summers while in college?

During my first summer in college, I returned home to Baton Rouge to work in the café of my family’s grocery store. The store was only one month old at the time. While making sandwiches was a bit mundane, being part of my dad’s team and putting in my share of work with the rest of the family while watching the business mature was an exciting and rewarding experience. During my second summer, I took a month-long course in New Zealand to study their communication systems and culture, and then returned home to work in the family business again. This past summer, I spent a week at the ISI Honors Conference before passing six weeks (with many former and current ISI honors fellows) in the Hertog Foundation’s Political Studies Program in Washington, D.C.

Whom do you admire most, and why?

I aspire to be like my grandmother. Her faith permeates her life, from attending daily mass to visiting the local prison loyally every Saturday to help those women as they grieve their freedom. She is a lifelong learner, reading a book a week and completing the crossword puzzles in the newspaper each day in order to stay sharp. She continues to travel across the country, facilitating community building workshops as a retired nurse. And to round out such a robust and admirable lifestyle, she does it all with a humility that points to others to Christ rather than herself.

What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?

Conservative views are definitely a minority on college campuses these days, and while the prevailing liberal leaning among students and faculty has helped me to think more thoroughly about my own position, connecting with fellow conservative thinkers has been essential. Conversations with more liberal-minded students have challenged me to examine and articulate the foundational tenets of my conservative worldview. Fellow conservatives have helped me think of new ways to defend those tenets while challenging more nuanced positions within conservative thought.