Embracing Confrontation to Spark Conversation
Kylie Thomas enjoys typical student activities at Penn State, like hanging out with friends and going to classes, but there has always been one particular interest that sets her apart.
Thomas is known by both Republicans and Democrats on campus as the “Trump Girl.” A vocal conservative, on any given day she can be seen wearing her “Make America Great Again” hat, and one of her many anti-big government t-shirts.
She draws plenty of attention.
A Day in the Life of Kylie Thomas
“I could be walking around campus at any given time, like September, October, November and people will just stop me,” Thomas said. “I would be on my way to class and I would end up running late.”
Thomas calls herself an individualist. She says that people can control their own lives, no matter what obstacle is placed in their way. Thomas says that most people at Penn State have the “victim” mentality in which they blame others instead of themselves for their decisions.
This viewpoint is not a popular one on campus and, as a result, Thomas has become no stranger to both positive and negative reactions from people during her time as a student.
“Of course there were those people who would take pictures of me," Thomas said. "And they would be like, ‘What does this girl thinks she’s doing? Why is she wearing a Trump hat, like she needs to go home or something?’”
As a Trump supporter, Thomas has become used to harsh reactions and judgments from people because of her beliefs. Growing up in a family of conservatives, Thomas says that she learned how to deal with confrontation during dinner conversations when she would have political discussions with her parents.
“They showed me both sides and I was able to pick and choose which one I fully believed in,” Thomas said. “They would challenge me on that, so it wasn’t even that I could pick and choose, they would challenge me on what I believed in.”
However, nothing could prepare her for the most challenging moment in January during a protest at the Allen Street gates.
A Dangerous Moment
On an early January day, during a protest of Trump’s immigration ban, Thomas was there to have discussions with the protestors. However, a group of about fifty protesters started to threaten her because they did not like that she was filming the protest on Facebook Live.
After repeatedly asking Thomas to leave, they became angry. It was at this point during the incident, Thomas says, that she feared for her life.
“All you can hear is ‘the light’s green, go’ and you know that the buses are coming,” Thomas said. “You just don’t know if you’re gonna be the one that gets pushed in front of them or not.”
Thomas said that this was one of the scariest moments of her life. She captured the entire incident on her phone through Facebook Live as she originally planned to film the protest for her friends to see.
Looking back on this moment, though, Thomas says she has no intentions of backing down from conversations with other people who don’t agree with her opinions. However, she says that the incident at the Allen Street gates is part of a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
“We’re too involved in wanting violence and that’s an issue,” Thomas said. “I definitely think that instead of resorting to violence we need to talk, we need to engage in conversation.”
Making A Better Future
Thomas says that she hopes to be at the forefront of conversation, especially when it comes to millennials. Thomas says that the general mentality of the younger generation needs to change for progress to be made.
Thomas wants millennials to start taking responsibility for their own actions and get outside the "box" society puts them in. She says that having open and honest conversations is important for the future of youth in America.
Thomas also says that if these conversations start happening, it can help people understand each individual’s unique perspective. As a result, individuals and groups can come together and understand different ways of thinking. This is the ideal result, Thomas says, because this can lead to unity.
“I want to spark ideas, I want conversation,” Thomas said. “I want everyone to come together and whether or not you duke it out with words or you sit there in silence, you’re sitting with your fellow Americans and you’re sitting together.”
Video: In Her Own Words
Thomas approaches life in a different way than most people. She says that her approach will be important for people to get away from the “victim” mentality.