We interviewed Pericles to tell us about his past experience with Students For Liberty.
1. Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in a town called Oyster Bay, on Long Island. I was fortunate to have a Greek immigrant father who worked his way from a remote village in Greece to becoming a leading cardiologist and researcher in America.
My mother was supportive of all of my endeavors throughout life and always encouraged me to see things through. I was able to participate in scouting, create great memories with neighbors and friends, pursuing scientific and adventurous extra-curricular activities.
Although I considered myself to be politically well-informed, my household was generally politically agnostic and I had never truly delved into the nuances of public policy. Physics was my favorite subject and I had a difficult time choosing between physics, history, and political science (my second favorites) when I went to college.
2. What was it like for you before you joined Students For Liberty?
After learning more about political philosophy during a presidential campaign, I sought to create a pro-liberty student organization on my campus. As it turned out, a small group of Philadelphia students, returning from the first International Students For Liberty Conference had already created a group on our campus.
As a result, I was able to join the fledgling group as a part of the leadership team. The close collaboration with Students For Liberty and some of its early allies, such as the Cato Institute, meant that we had great access to books, scholars, and resources. I probably learned more through my work with Students For Liberty than throughout my entire formal college education.
Later, as an SFL leader, I learned the skills required for fundraising, networking, major events planning, and perhaps most importantly, discovered career paths and connections which have led me to pursue a career advancing the cause of liberty for almost a decade.
3. What made you decide to join Students For Liberty?
I was particularly impressed with the organization’s culture and early structure. As such, I felt it was a natural progression to join the executive board, following successful regional leadership through my student group. I knew Students For Liberty would go on to accomplish great things and wanted to play a role in shaping its future.
4. Where do you currently work and what is your position there?
I currently work as a Student Programs Manager at the Cato Institute.
5. What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis? Did Students For LIberty help you develop those skills?
Certainly, my experience with Students For Liberty provided a necessary foundation for the skills and knowledge required in my current position. Managing student programs at Cato requires vision and goal-based thinking, familiarity with logistics and event planning, an understanding for identifying impactful and diverse talent to support Cato’s research, and the development of a strong network to help identify and connect program participants to other opportunities.
From the beginning, Students For Liberty’s intentionality around cultivating these skills in its leaders was essential in my professional development.
6. What is your most memorable moment from your time with Students For Liberty?
Two moments stand out here. One being my selection to the executive board and the other being the creation of SFL’s charity poker tournament event.
The former required me to complete a rigorous selection process and I can still remember the day, at the International Conference, when applicants were brought into a room, in suspense, to be told that they had made the cut.
The leadership week that followed in June was also incredible and very well thought out. That was when I first visited the Cato Institute, the Institute for Justice, and other organizations in person, and I was beginning to understand the broader strategy and purpose of SFL’s work.
The second memorable moment involved me organizing, seeking funding for, and hosting the first SFL charity poker tournament at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.
Though hesitant at first, the Students For Liberty board gave me the autonomy to sit down with key donors and pitch the idea. The inaugural event was a complete success, with participants and donors alike truly enjoying it.
7. What made you interested in the ideas of liberty?
Although my interest was initially sparked by a conversation around blowback, it was also my exposure to Ayn Rand’s classic works, alongside popular documentaries at the time, that made me start to question many of the narratives I had taken for granted when growing up. A desire to find the truth, and a willingness to explore different ideas which made me uncomfortable, eventually lead me to value the ideas of liberty.
8. What does liberty mean TO YOU?
To me, liberty means, in so much as any of us are able, the ability to pursue one’s own destiny and to live a life that fulfills our unique values and beliefs.
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