We are excited to bring you the latest edition of the “My Forge Story” series. In this edition, we hear from Genevieve Harding, a 2019-20 graduate of the Forge Mentorship Academy. Genevieve shares how her experience at Forge gave her the tools and friendship necessary to stand up for her beliefs on her campus, and now in multiple internships in Washington, D.C.
Genevieve Harding is a junior Religious Studies major at Kenyon College, currently studying in Washington D.C. as a part of American University’s Washington Semester Program. She has interned in both the U.S. House and the Senate and is currently interning at Heritage Action for America. Genevieve was a Fall 2020 Heritage Foundation Academy Fellow and is currently a Young Women for America Ambassador. Her primary interest is the intersection of religion and politics, particularly concerning pro-life issues, sexual ethics, and other issues that affect the natural family.
We hope you enjoy and are inspired by Genevieve’s story!
Genevieve Harding’s Forge Story
“I often reflect on how my Forge experience was God-written. There were so many reasons why I shouldn’t have ended up at Forge. In the summer of 2019, I was in Israel studying Biblical Hebrew at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for five weeks and then traveling around the country. While I was there, my mother, who was working with Citizens for Community Values, heard from her colleagues about Forge and that her daughter might be interested. Since I was halfway around the world, my mom talked with Forge COO Jeremiah Martin, telling him I would definitely apply the following summer. Jeremiah’s response was, “No, we want her to come for this year’s Summit next week.” After that, Jeremiah worked to open every possible door that might prevent me from making it to the Summit. That would be the first time, but not the last, that Forge would show me they saw potential in me that I did not yet see in myself.
“Before attending Forge, while I was interested in politics due to my passion for pro-life advocacy, I was cynical and doubtful about making it a career. I thought politics was a rat race where people rarely accomplish anything good, and no one is truly your friend.
“I arrived at the Summit in 2019 jet-lagged after returning from Israel less than a day before and feeling entirely out of my comfort zone. Due to my travels, I didn’t even have a bill prepared for the mock legislature. It seemed that everyone around me knew so much more about politics than I did. To say I arrived at Forge with a case of imposter syndrome would be an understatement.
“But Forge quickly proved wrong all my preconceived notions not just about working in politics, but about myself. After a few committee sessions, my student mentor, Matt Brokke, pulled me aside and told me that he thought I was engaging in the committee discussions very thoughtfully, and encouraged me to draft a bill. With one committee session left, he assured me he would make sure we got to my bill. I worked that evening to draft my bill that focused on defunding Planned Parenthood and reallocating the government resources they received to life-affirming pregnancy centers. The next day, after presenting my bill, Matt told me that he thought I had a real gift for engaging in politics and I should consider it for a career. The people at Forge saw in me the God-given talents that I did not yet see in myself. I thought that I couldn’t work in politics because I was too sensitive, or that I didn’t know enough, or that other people were just better suited for the field. The places where I thought I was lacking were actually places of undiscovered potential that God revealed to me through my participation in the Summit. I left the Summit anxious to apply to the Mentorship Academy to continue discovering what God had for me through Forge.
“Two weeks later, I received my acceptance to the Forge Mentorship Academy. It was through the Academy that I developed my deepest friendships. I attend Kenyon College, which is very liberal, and it has been difficult for me to find like-minded friends––I am the only girl who attends the Republican Club at my school, and as a result, I have often felt lonely in my convictions. The reality is that I know there are more conservative women at Kenyon, but it is hard to connect with them since the backlash that conservative women face, especially on college campuses, is often more different and sometimes more hostile than what men face. As a result, conservative women on campus tend to stay quiet. The criticism that I have faced on Kenyon’s campus primarily attacks my authenticity as a woman; my morals are consistently questioned and I have frequently been called “anti-woman.” While I have found support in the Republican club at my school, there were aspects of my experience at Kenyon that the male members wouldn’t completely understand. Forge provided for me a support system outside of Kenyon that has enabled me to stand firm in my beliefs on campus and hopefully be a voice for other conservative women at Kenyon who may not feel as though they can speak up.
“Often the call that God places on our life is one that strikes fear in us when we try to face it alone. But in His goodness, God surrounds us with the community we need to answer the call. Forge was the community God gave me. During the Forge Summit and throughout the Academy, God began to reveal his call on my life to engage in the political sphere, using the people around me to nudge me closer and closer to His will even when I fought it and doubted myself. Forge has surrounded me with people who not only share my convictions but help to confirm God’s call on my life.
“I came to the Summit saying I would never work in politics, and I started the Academy saying I would never work on the Hill. A year and a half later, I am living in D.C. and have completed two congressional internships, one in the House and one in the Senate. I often joke that Forge wrecked my plans, but I always make that joke with a smile on my face. I came to Forge with a pretty white-knuckle grip on the plans I had for myself, but as all Christians eventually discover–the plans God has for us are always better than the plans that we have for ourselves. I’m eternally grateful that God’s plan for my life included Forge.”
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I hope you were inspired by hearing Genevieve’s Forge Story.
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Forge Leadership Network
Co-Founder & President
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