Gabrielle Wiggins
Category: 2020 High School Winner

Gabrielle Wiggins

Florida State University

Don’t conform to how society wants you to act. Think for yourself. Stand up for what’s right, even if you stand alone. These are the messages thrown at young teenagers every day, all across America, but I think they’re words much easier said than done. It’s easy to lose track of yourself and your values as a teenager especially in politics, so whenever I find myself slipping, I look to one of my greatest inspirations who always stands strong: Candace Owens.

Candace is an African American conservative political activist and commentator. As a child, she had to deal with struggles when her parents divorced. In high school, she was the target of threatening, racist phone calls. She was able to overcome these challenges and rose to become one of the leading conservative influencers in America. In 2018, she created a campaign called Blexit, a movement that encourages African Americans to join the Republican Party. Candace is an inspiration to a whole new generation of young people who are interested in politics because she encourages people to think freely and not let something like skin color determine their character, opinions, or beliefs. I remember the first time I saw a video of Candace giving a speech about a topic like that, and I recall thinking: “She has so much courage.”

I was so excited to see Candace talk at a conference I went to in the summer of 2019, and even more happy when I got to hear her again at a different event in December. Every time I see her, I am awed by her poise, dignity, and genuine good humor. She is a specific inspiration for me because I have been the target of lots of bullying for my conservative beliefs, both online and in person. However, Candace has been through worse and lives a life constantly under public scrutiny. The way that she conducts herself with grace under pressure is so impressive and I remember her example whenever I’m disheartened.

Candace Owens is a role model for young people in so many ways- through her impressive public speaking skills, her fortitude, and her courage. She is an outstanding example of a minority woman who has overcome adversity and developed her own voice in a world trying to talk for her. I am thankful every day that I have learned so much from her, and I’m grateful for her continuous positive role in American political culture.