It is a well-worn cliché to say that you should follow your passion wherever it leads. But often, there are people who take that phrase to heart, and by living it to its fullest extent, achieve amazing things.
Emelie Nyman was raised by humble, hardworking parents in Malmö, Sweden. “From their example, I learned to keep my head down, work hard, and never question… well, anything.” After her family divorced, they moved to a traditional village in southern Sweden.
There in the conservative countryside, she saw a sharp contrast with the open cosmopolitanism of Malmö. To say attitudes were more conservative there would be an understatement. “That was the first time I was exposed to unashamed and even normalized racism.”
In 2018, during Sweden’s last general election, Emelie was a senior in high school. The nationalist party was seeing its moment of prominence appealing to Swedes’ nativist instincts. But when the socialist party touted itself as the “‘good guy,” as the only force against intolerance, Emelie knew something was off. “Common sense told me that the narratives put forth by both parties had to be false.”
Emelie decided to join a chapter of Center Party Youth and ended up campaigning to change the narrative. The Center Party Youth calls itself a “liberal, green and market-liberal organization” with an emphasis on small government, individualism, and environmental sustainability. This offered a path forward – one not mired in anti-immigrant bigotry or reckless collectivism. At the Party Youth, Emelie wanted to have her voice heard.
That’s when she met Carissa Düring, the current European Students For Liberty (ESFL) National Coordinator in Sweden. She was inspired by Students for Liberty and decided to join.
Emelie told us that Students For Liberty helped her refine the principles on which she bases her politics. It has been like a compass for the political world she navigates. “Much of the framework that I now base my political beliefs on comes from the opportunities and support provided by SFL.”
The principles SFL imparted also helped Emelie grow professionally. SFL’s training programs allowed her to not only grow as a public speaker but also to advance professionally as a result of SFL’s management training. “Much of the framework that I now base my political beliefs on comes from the opportunities and support provided by SFL.”
The experiences SFL gave her contributed to the nomination committee recommending her for the Centre Party Youth of Sweden’s national board, to which she was elected at the annual congress in May of this year.
Emelie intends to help shift the national discourse on several key issues. One of her focuses is reducing labor regulations, which she believes hampers Sweden’s economic potential. Another is producing an adaptive national education system. She stresses having “competent and motivated teachers” and giving students “the tools needed to perform” in a rapidly changing world.
The youth association has a lot of freedom in their political messaging and what causes to promote. Recently, the youth party made headlines when they advocated abolishing all labor regulations. It was a marketing success.
As a board member of the Center Party Youth, Emelie now has substantial influence. She wants to capitalize on this by leading structural changes within the organization. “I hope to make the youth party more sustainable for the long run, and more prominent.” She believes in investing in the skill and confidence of young members, who are the future of the party.
Emelie has a broader vision for the liberty movement. In particular, she wants libertarians to focus more on climate change. “Otherwise, we run the risk of hurting the younger generation’s trust in the liberty movement” – and we risk hurting the planet, too.
She is proud of how she was able to earn the trust and recognition of people within the youth party. On the topic of her journey from a blue-collar background to a national board member Emelie says, “I never got anything for free,” she states, her hard work has paid off.
Emelie’s ambition for the future is to ultimately become an influential staffer in the Center Party. But first, she wants to continue her involvement in youth politics.
At first, Emelie simply wanted to be heard. With some guidance from SFL, which she says made her “much more confident in [her] political engagements,” Emelie is now making a true impact. In free countries, speaking your mind truly can take you anywhere.
Stories like Emelie Nyman’s can give anyone hope for society and for themselves. This one started with a young woman with strong beliefs, a voice, and a vision. This is all you need to start making a difference. People like Emelie remind us that “follow your dreams,” though a truism, is still true – and that’s worth taking to heart.
If, like Emelie Nyman, you would like to get involved in pro-liberty activism, click on the button below to apply to join our Local Coordinator Program.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.