Each year, the Ayn Rand Institute invites seasonal interns who help with projects and tasks while engaging in educational activities tailored to their knowledge of Rand’s ideas and their own research interests. This summer, in partnership with the Charles Koch Institute, five interns attended OCON in Pittsburgh and then came to work in our Southern California offices. An additional intern joined ARI from the Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong. We are introducing them to you in this ongoing series.

Grace Gumina is a senior, double majoring in French and international relations at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Gumina explains why she was inspired to study French: “I took French in high school and loved it, so I decided to continue in college. I think it’s very important to learn another language in today’s increasingly connected world.” She decided to also pursue international relations due to an interest in global politics and history. Like many interns at the Ayn Rand Institute, Gumina is sponsored through the Charles Koch Internship Program. ARI is a partner organization for this program. Gumina adds “when I applied to KIP I also applied to ARI since I was interested in exploring Objectivism.”

We caught up with Gumina to talk about school, life and Ayn Rand.

What do you love about where you go to school?

All of my professors are wonderful and engaging, and the small class sizes make lectures feel less like lectures and more like a discussion among students and professors.

When did you first discover Ayn Rand?

I discovered her when I was sixteen. I had seen my older brother reading Atlas Shrugged, so I wanted to imitate him — because I thought he was cool — and read it too. That was when I was first introduced to Objectivism.

Favorite Ayn Rand character and why?

I’m currently reading The Fountainhead, and so far, I sympathize with Peter Keating. I know he’s not the character you’re supposed to like, but I find him unfortunately normal in the ways he self-doubts and uses other people to get where he wants. To me, he seems more like a real person than the others in the novel.

Favorite Ayn Rand quote?

“Men have been taught that is it a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.” [The Fountainhead]

Currently reading . . .

La Première Gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules by Philippe Delerm.  In my bookshelf are also books I’ve read but love to return to: Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment and Frankenstein.

What’s your hobby?

I like being outdoors and I road-bike, but I’m a horse girl at heart.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Sometimes people can’t control their situation, but they can control how they respond to it, and that determines whether they will be happy or not.

Where are Ayn Rand's ideas needed most today?

So many people in today’s culture adopt a victim mentality, while Rand promotes self-esteem and value-chasing. I think many people with the victim mindset could benefit from taking responsibility for their lives and pursuing their own values.