Young Conservative leader Mary Weston reflects on her time with UI College Republicans

Young Conservative leader Mary Weston reflects on her time with the UI College Republicans. During her time with the College Republicans, she has been able to learn the importance of dialogue between all political affiliations.


Madyson Gomez

University of Iowa senior Mary Weston poses for a portrait on the Pentacrest in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Mary is an exercise science major and will be working as a caregiver to an individual with Parkinson’s her first year out of college.

Emily Delgado, Politics Reporter

Mary Weston learned confidence and the importance of conservative leadership during her four years at the University of Iowa.

Weston has served as the UI College of Republicans chairman of communications and outreach since spring 2021. Weston also served as the state chair of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans since fall 2021. Weston will graduate with a bachelor’s in exercise science and a certificate in entrepreneurial management.

When Weston first arrived at the UI, she said she was determined to hide her political affiliation until 2020 when she found out through a friend that College Republicans were holding meetings via Zoom.

“Fall semester — the first meeting — we sat on my dorm bed and joined the very first Zoom call of our college career, and just chatted with other Republicans,” Weston said. “And it was just nice finding a community of like-minded people.”

Weston grew up in a Christian household and said her background impacted her beliefs. Growing up in a politically diverse household – her parents conservative, her sister a Democrat, and her brother a libertarian – made Weston aware of the need for conversations between all political affiliations.

“I hope to take that with me into the future, whether it’s in the workforce or just conversations with the public, but I hope to not let that go and be reminded that everyone’s opinion does matter, and there are ways to politely discuss politics,” Weston said.

Through her position of power, Weston has seen a steady influx of young conservative women joining her organization and being vocal about their ideas.

During a discussion surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade and surrounding reproductive rights, Weston said her organization benefited from having women members on the front lines leading conversation surrounding the topic instead of the men.

Weston, who grew up in Iowa, was able to meet long-time role models Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, through her participation in College Republicans.

“It was sophomore year, and Sen. Joni Ernst came to visit, and I started to realize, ‘Oh my gosh, we get to actually talk to politicians and get involved in politics and talk to legislators about what our thoughts are as young people,’” Weston said. “So, that was kind of the first stepping stone.”

Weston tells the story of meeting Ernst to any young conservatives she meets, hoping it inspires them to be more vocal in politics. Over the years, UI College Republicans have gathered attention from various media outlets like “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

Having a national conservative voice like Shapiro meant a lot to the organization and to Weston.

“I realized that people are going to try to knock you down whether you’re conservative or liberal, and you need to keep up the good fight and fight for your opinions, fight to have a voice,” Weston said, “And I don’t know – that solidified that I wanted to keep being conservative and keep fighting for conservative students on this campus.”

As she prepares to graduate and move on to the next chapter of her life, Weston said she is thankful for the organization and the lessons she has learned through her time a leadership position.

“This group had helped me feel comfortable in my own skin,” Weston said. “We’ve made each other speak up when we don’t really feel like we should be speaking up.”