Head of the Boston College Network of Enlighted Women Chapter Senior Julia Canzano Talks Being a Conservative in College

Head of the Boston College Network of Enlighted Women Chapter Senior Julia Canzano Talks Being a Conservative in College


Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the head of the Network of enlightened Women at Boston College Julia Canzano to the newsmaker line to discuss her experience as a college conservative and her plans after graduation.

Leahy: We’re joined on a newsmaker line right now by Julia Canzano, who is the head of the Boston College chapter of the Network of enlightened Women. Sort of almost behind enemy lines there. Julia, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Canzano: Thank you so much for having me.

Leahy: Well, what’s it like being the head of a college chapter of a conservative organization in very liberal Boston, Massachusetts?

Canzano: Well, it has its challenges. Not everyone on campus agrees with the work we do. We had one incident where we were hosting a workshop about getting more women elected to office presentations on how do you network? How do you fundraise? How do you craft a message for yourself? And I was telling somebody about this and about how we really wanted it to be a bipartisan effort leading up to Election Day.

And it was going to be hosted with the Network of enlightened, my group with the Boston College Republicans. And then before I could even get the words out of my mouth, the Boston College Democrats, she said, ewww, why would I ever want to go to an event hosted by a conservative group and Boston College Republicans? And so we get things like that all the time. But it doesn’t stop us from continuing to spread our message on campus.

Leahy: Julia, is it discouraging to be a college student today when colleges are supposed to be where you have a free market of ideas, where people freely exchange thoughts? It looks like most of your peers have no interest in learning something new, but want to just kind of follow a certain left-wing propaganda line.

Canzano: It can be. But I would say, on every college campus, there’s definitely a community of conservative students, whether it’s through groups like the Network of enlightened Women or Boston College Republicans. I’ve been able to find my group of students that support my ideas and usually agree with me, and we’re able to successfully have conversations in the classroom. And while they aren’t always successful with our peers, it doesn’t stop us from having them.

Leahy: Well, that’s great. What year are you up there now Julia?

Canzano: I’m currently a senior.

Leahy: Currently a senior. So what has this last year been like for you? It has definitely been a struggle. It’s definitely not the senior year that I would have liked to have had. Our administration has had to follow a lot of the guidelines that Massachusetts and the city of Boston have put forth. So we’ve had no football games, no tailgates, no special senior events.

They just announced this past Monday about policies for graduation and they’ve said that we’re not allowed to have any guests. (Leahy sighs) So my parents will not be able to attend in person, and it is a bit disheartening. But they’re put in a tough spot with the rules that the state is putting forth.

Leahy: Where are you from originally, Julia?

Canzano: I’m originally from Florida.

Leahy: You’re from Florida. How did you pick Boston College?

Canzano: I used to live up in Massachusetts when I was a lot younger, and I have a lot of family up here. So when I was four years ago searching for colleges, it was just something that really appealed to me. But now I kind of do wish I was in Florida back with my family because it’s a much more open state.

Leahy: You are also a contributor at The Daily Caller. Is that right?

Canzano: I am. Yes.

Leahy: And how long have you been writing for them?

Canzano: It’s been about two to three months.

Leahy: And what sort of things do you write about for The Daily Caller?

Canzano: Usually it’s whatever stories they pass along our way, whether it’s something big in the news, whether it’s a statement that former President Trump put forth or something that a representative said or it can be as small as kind of local crime that’s happened or small-town stories. We really like to cover the stories that some of the major news networks aren’t covering as much.

Leahy: What are you going to do after you graduate?

Canzano: Hopefully, I would like to work in political event planning, whether it’s with campaigns or nonprofits.

Leahy: That makes a lot of sense. You know, this maybe has never happened to you before but at The Tennessee Star, we have six state-based news sites. And we are opening one in Florida, The Florida Capital Star.

Canzano: Really?

Leahy: Yeah, we really are. And I am going to on-air offer you a job to work with us down there. How about that?

Canzano: (Laughs) That’s awesome. I appreciate the offer.

Leahy: We’ll talk about it off air, but I think you’d be great if you want to go back home to Florida, and we have some great people down there. We’re launching The Florida Capital Star next week. So we’ll send you some of the stories and see if you might be interested in it. Other than that, do you intend to go back to Florida or go back to Washington? Where would you go?

Canzano: Ideally, I would like to end up in Washington, D.C. I know it’s where all the politics are. And from what I hear from a lot of people, you kind of have to go and do your time, and then you can go to what other state you want. Either Florida or Washington, DC.

Leahy: Do your time in Washington, D.C. (Chuckles)

Listen to the second hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio







Network of Enlightened Women-Nashville Chapter President Allison Santa Rita Talks Challenges on Being a Conservative at Belmont University

Network of Enlightened Women-Nashville Chapter President Allison Santa Rita Talks Challenges on Being a Conservative at Belmont University


Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the president of Belmont University’s Nashville Chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women to the studio to discuss the bias and challenges she and her chapter of conservative women face on campus.

Leahy: We are joined in Studio by Allison Santa Rita. She’s the president of the Nashville chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women. Good morning Alison.

Santa Rita: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me. It’s so great to be able to be here especially after being followed by our founder Karen Lips. That’s incredible.

Leahy: So you’re a student at Belmont?

Santa Rita: Yes.

Leahy: Where are you from originally?

Santa Rita: I am originally from around the area of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Leahy: Great place great place. I had friends that lived in Carmel, Indiana. That’s a nice little suburb isn’t it Indianapolis?

Santa Rita: Absolutely. They were actually our rival in school.

Leahy: Where’d you go to work to get high school?

Santa Rita: I went to Noblesville High School. So I went to a public one.

Leahy: So who won?

Santa Rita: Caramel. (Laughter)

Leahy: So what brought you to Nashville? Why did you choose it?

Santa Rita: I had always wanted to go into the entertainment or music industry and Belmont just seemed like the perfect place to do that. And also who doesn’t want to live here in Nashville during college?

Leahy: I would agree with that and by the way, we’re talking off-air that my wait for my first cousin twice removed. That is the granddaughter of my first cousin who is going to be enrolling at Belmont. She’s got a scholarship to play sports there. So we are delighted to have her here in town. Extend the Leahy family here in Nashville. And so you’re part of the Nashville family now.

Santa Rita: Yes, absolutely. I quite enjoy it. (Chuckles)

Leahy: It is a nice place, isn’t it to be a college student?

Santa Rita: Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s not just the opportunity to really do whatever you would want, whenever you want. But also especially as a music student, it’s incredible to be able to go make those connections at the writers’ rounds that they have almost every single night throughout the week. Which is absolutely incredible.

Leahy: So you’re majoring in music?

Santa Rita: So I’m majoring in the music business with an emphasis in business.

Leahy: Interesting, interesting. So the Network of Enlightened Women educates the next generation of women leaders on conservative principles. So are you the next generation of women leaders on conservative principles?

Santa Rita: Yes. Absolutely. At least I hope so. and especially on our college campus. I’m sure a lot of people are worried about their children or grandchildren going into college. And I think it’s super important to have organizations such as the network of enlightened women to help keep us grounded and keep us on track with our beliefs. And it’s incredible what they’re doing and I really do think they are producing the next round of conservative women who are going to stand up and fight for our beliefs throughout these next couple of years.

Leahy: So how many members of the Nashville chapter of the network of enlightened women are there?

Santa Rita: Yes, so we have about 100 women.

Leahy: Really? See now I’m impressed. I mean I was already impressed. But now I’m really impressed.

Santa Rita: Yes. We love it. We noticed that we do have 100 women who are signed up and they do stay active with events that we have. But then we have like about 40 women who are just so active and they are absolutely incredible. And they’ve joined committees. They do social media takeovers for us. They help with social media or really any aspect that they have the opportunity to jump in and be active they do it.

Leahy: My question to you is, are conservatives and particularly conservative women isolated on the campus? Do you get a lot of negative feedback from various folks?

Santa Rita: Yes. Absolutely. One story. There are so many stories but one is that we have a Twitter handle, not directly related to Belmont. They say they’re not affiliated but it’s all Belmont students and it is incredibly toxic. And once two even three times a week, they will make it a point that conservatives are not welcome on campus.

Leahy: Really?

Santa Rita: Yes.

Leahy: Well, but that’s just a Twitter account. But tell me the rest of the story.

Santa Rita: What they do is they have probably a group of people that for sure go out when we are on campus and they’ll take videos of us and try and ask us questions. Or if I go out and put QR codes on tables and say hey would you like to join our community? Tell them a little bit about it. Within the next hour, all of those QR codes will be removed from the whole entire campus. And they were actually tweeting about it and they said conservatives are not welcome on this campus. You have no Community here. and not that you don’t have a community, but we don’t want you to have one.

Leahy: But these are just students right?

Santa Rita: Yes.

Leahy: What’s the administration do there?

Santa Rita: They do not care.

Leahy: They don’t do anything to defend you.

Santa Rita: Nope. Not at all. In fact Network of Enlightened Women does not have an actual chapter at Belmont because they said that we are not allowed to have a national advocacy organization anymore on Belmont’s campus. But we’re not. We’re a 501 (c) (3) non-profit.

Leahy: So that’s their excuse, that you can’t have national advocacy groups there?

Santa Rita: So what actually happened is we applied last fall semester and they were just coming up with excuses like oh reformat your bylaws, do this do that. And so I had gone on for about three months of redoing stuff and trying to keep in contact. And every time I would ask, just excuses. Then the next semester rolls around which is this semester and I said, hey, what’s the update? We have some incredible women who want this to be a Belmont chapter. And they said, I’m sorry, we have changed the rules. We are no longer allowing national advocacy programs.

Leahy: Was that basically to keep you guys from having a chapter?

Santa Rita: I believe so. 100 percent, but I can’t confirm.

Leahy: So if we had somebody from the Belmont administration sitting here, what would they say about you and your conservative group that just wants to have an opportunity to be on campus like every other group out there?

Santa Rita: So I’ve had conversations with them and all they say is you know, we had to change those rules because we’re trying to keep it local.

Leahy: So you are not local apparently. The chapter of a national group is not local is that the new standard?

Santa Rita: Apparently so.

Leahy: Well, but why are you paying these guys’ tuition if they’re so mean to you?

Santa Rita: Absolutely.

Leahy: That’s a serious question. Why spend a lot of money with these people that don’t like you because you actually have a point of view that they don’t approve of?

Santa Rita: Yeah, so that’s a great question. Though at the end of the day I’m there for an incredible music opportunity to learn from some really great professors who most of them are a little bit like-minded with me. Which is incredible.

Leahy: Shh, don’t tell anybody that. (Whispers) You might get them in trouble.

Santa Rita: I’m not going to name names. (Chuckles)

Leahy: Good.

Santa Rita: But that’s okay because those that are not like-minded are very vocal to us.

Leahy: So the professors that are not like-minded Are they mean to you? What do they say? Do they say, you know, get out of here? Are they a little more muted in their conversations with you?

Santa Rita: So there are professors on campus who will not allow conservatives to write about conservative topics because we have to get them approved on papers.

Leahy: You mean in a class?

Santa Rita: Yes.

Leahy: As a normal part of submitting papers in the class? So they’re constraining freedom of speech in their classes.

Santa Rita: Absolutely. (Laughs)

Leahy: This is academic freedom gone haywire.

Santa Rita: And we try to fight it. and there are some people that are working on stories about it. The best we can do is get our voice out there tell our stories and really talk about what is happening. But at the end of the day, I am there for a music degree. And sadly the music industry does not agree with a lot of my beliefs.

Leahy: Well, that’s probably true. So you get the music degree and then you go out into the music industry. And do they hate conservatives too or is it a mixed bag?

Santa Rita: I’d say it’s a mixed bag, especially on the business side you might have a little bit more of the conservatives. But in the actual industry, you’re probably going to be stuck with some not so like-minded people. But you know as a conservative I find it very important to surround myself with those of opposite views. I think that’s incredibly important especially as a student

Leahy: You see liberals don’t do that.

Santa Rita: 100 percent.

Leahy: I mean if you’re a liberal you gotta you can only talk to liberals. You can’t even entertain the thought from a conservative. What’s it like psychologically for you and your fellow members of the Network of Enlightenment Women Nashville chapter here in Belmont? What percentage of your fellow students in the administration are just actively trying to undermine what you’re doing and try to be mean to you?

Santa Rita: Yeah, I don’t know the exact percentage but it feels like a lot. I would definitely say we are the silent majority. So those that are vocal or not conservatives normally. So it really does feel like about 70 percent of the campus is trying to get us. So it’s really tough at times. One of the things we have really have focused on in the Network of Enlightened Women is Nashville’s community because we realized…

Leahy: Internally with your folks? How do people get in touch with you?

Santa Rita: They can get in touch with Network of Enlightened Women-Nashville on Instagram. And we kind of reply to our DM’s and we make sure that we are I’m staying active with them.

Leahy: Alison Santa Rita thanks. The president of the Nashville chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women. Good luck and keep us posted. Ad let’s hope the administration at Belmont starts to be a little bit nicer to you guys.

Santa Rita: I hope so too.

Listen to the full first hour here:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Allison Santa Rita” by NeW. Background
Photo “University of Belmont Campus” by the University of Belmont.








Network of Enlightened Women Founder and President Karin Lips Discusses Her Motivation and Helping Conservative Women Find Their Voice on College Campuses

Network of Enlightened Women Founder and President Karin Lips Discusses Her Motivation and Helping Conservative Women Find Their Voice on College Campuses


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the founder of the (NeW) Network of Enlightened Women, Karen Lips to the newsmakers line to discuss what motivated her to start NeW and how she intends to help conservative women find their voice in college communities.

Leahy: We are joined now by Karin Lips who’s the founder of the Network of Enlightened Women. A very brave person. Karin, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report this morning.

Lips: Good morning. Thank you for having me on and thank you for your kind words.

Leahy: So 2004 you are a student at the University of Virginia. I’ve been there, by the way, Charlottesville. Nice town.

Lips: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Leahy: It’s very beautiful of course. went to Monticello and went up and looked at to all around to the great historic facilities there. And of course, the campus is beautiful as well. But the intellectual freedom atmosphere not quite so beautiful. Tell us about your experience there in 2004 when you came back and told the officials at the women’s center that you wanted to start a conservative women’s group there?

Lips: Well, like many young people I had the experience of interning in Washington D.C. for my home state senator, Senator Lugar. I really appreciated the chance to be surrounded by smart and ambitious women who wanted to talk about the issues of the day and wanted to include conservative voices. I went back to UVA for my third year of college and sought out that environment. And unfortunately, as you hinted, the women’s groups weren’t open to more conservative voices.

I even went to our women’s center which is in a building right near the center of campus and had a tour with a faculty member there at the end. She had been recruiting me for all kinds of programs there. And I asked if they would be interested in co-sponsoring a group for conservative women. She looked at me like I was crazy, chuckled, and said not here. That was my experience.

Leahy: Yeah that’s the way it works isn’t it?

Lips: Yes, at a major public university. The woman’s institutions just weren’t open to more conservative voices. And as a result, I ended up starting the Network of Enlightened Women known as NeW and as a book club so that women could read the stories and hear conservative policies from conservative women.

I started that 16 years ago and it is continuing to grow one chapter at a time. And I’m excited to share that. We are on campuses across the country. We’ve got an active presence in Nashville with some awesome women from Belmont. A very active group. And we are going to be hosting our leadership retreat for our top leaders around the country in August in Chattanooga. I’ve never been and I’m really looking forward to it.

Leahy: Chattanooga is a wonderful place. And by the way, send all of your Belmont University chapter members here to The Tennessee Star Report. We’ll have them in the studio on the program. And I noticed you have media fellowship opportunities. We are always looking for great writers at the Star News Network. We have six conservative news sites in states around the country like Tennessee and Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. And so right now here on the air, I will tell you any intern you send our way, we’ll work with them.

Lips: Well, I appreciate that kind offer. And you mentioned our student media fellows program. That’s a program we started because we truly believe that women are the future of freedom. and for women to be great advocates we’ve got to help train them. So this is a program where we help college students learn to write their first op-ed and do their first radio interview with the goal of getting them trained so they can become advocates of freedom and America’s founding principles and speak out for those.

Not just while they are students on campus but in the years to come and their communities. We think that’s just so important to get them trained because it seems like women on the left are pulling us further left like AOC and her Democratic socialism. They’re pulling us further left. And we need strong advocates on the right. And so that’s why we’ve got programs like our student media fellows training college women to write and be great messengers.

Leahy: Well, the other thing that I noticed is the huge peer pressure to be a brain-dead leftist on campuses today is I think unimaginable compared to what it was like years ago. How do conservative young women survive with that kind of intellectual onslaught against them?

Lips: It’s tough out there. We should not minimize that It’s just tough on college campuses. And that’s why I knew one of the things we needed to do is to create a community. We find college women that want that community and that want that intellectual home. Many of them feel very alone. One of the things in my job I get to see is we find these amazing women on these college campuses and a common theme is they just feel very alone.

So we create that community to bring them in. And then we are also working to make it socially acceptable might be a way to phrase it for women to self-identify as conservative and speak out. This year 2021 we deemed it the year of the conservative woman. And so as part of this program, we’re celebrating conservative women and really creating that national community. Each month we’re doing an online Facebook live discussion with a conservative woman leader.

In March Kay Coles James president of the Heritage Foundation on for a lively conversation. So we are highlighting and celebrating and promoting conservative women across our platforms. We are on Instagram where a lot of college students are trying to give them the chance to see that there are a lot of strong conservative women out there that they can aspire to be like.

Leahy: We are talking with Karen Lips the founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women. My impression Karin is that the left on campuses today is bullying, intolerant, and mean-spirited towards anyone who says something other than what’s out there. We got about a minute left. Am I right? Am I wrong? What’s the outlook for the future?

Lips: Well in 2018, we published our first book. She’s Conservative: Stories of Trials and Triumphs on America’s College Campuses. And a theme that emerged is that conservative women were making a decision before they even stepped foot on campus to keep their views quiet. Not just because they worry about their grades but because they are worried about making friends. That social pressure and the atmosphere on campus needs to be fixed. And it’s a real problem if conservatives are deciding to self-censor before they even step foot on campus.

Leahy: Well, that’s a great story and a great effort. We wish you the best of luck Karin. Will you come into Nashville sometime and visit with us in studio?

Lips: I’d love to get to Nashville. What a great place. I’d be happy to stop in.

Listen to the full first hour:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Karin Lips” by Network of enlightened Women.