UC Berkeley students are known for bucking trends, and Claire Chiara is no exception.
Chiara, a 22-year-old senior majoring in political science and economics, is one of the youngest members of the California delegation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. She’s an outspoken conservative and Trump supporter, setting her apart from many of her liberal peers.
“I have friends who joke and say, ‘You’re behind enemy lines,’” says Chiara, laughing. “I would not use the term ‘enemy lines,’ but I am… out of my traditional element at Berkeley.”
The up-and-coming delegate and political activist is also running for office; She’s on the ballot for California State Assembly District 15, which includes Berkeley, against Democratic incumbent Tony Thurmond.
Though she was born in New Jersey, Chiara grew up in Los Angeles County, so she is used to a liberal climate. When she came to Berkeley, though, she found many of her peers expected everyone to be a Democrat and were sometimes surprised to learn she is a Republican.
That’s just the way she wants it.
“I wouldn’t pick a different school,” says Chiara, who is a former president of the Berkeley College Republicans. “You go to college to have your beliefs challenged… I’ve had a chance to refine my own beliefs by being surrounded by people who are on the other side of the issues.”
Being a conservative is one thing, but how do fellow students react to Chiara being a delegate bound to Trump?
“That’s a little tougher than just being a Republican,” Chiara says. “People on the left are not interested in discussing his merits, not interested in discussing his platform.”
Though Trump has been criticized for his comments about women, Chiara says she’s confident that the presidential hopeful’s business acumen will transfer into political life.
“He’s a business man who cares about performance and results,” Chiara says. “He has a track record of hiring women. There’s an old quote of his about… hiring anyone who can get the job done.”
Going forward, Chiara says she expects to keep pushing boundaries and immerse herself in tough dialogue.
“I’ve been involved in political activism throughout my college career,” she says. “It’s been a very unique experience.”