“Learn and grow” - my overarching goal coming to school. I would like to share a few ways that I have been learning and growing at Westmont.
What an adventure college has been! It certainly started that way with the Multi-Sport Pre-Orientation Adventure trip. Here, I explored the outdoor world I had yet to taste, rappelling off the face of a rock wall, navigating precarious rope courses, kayaking through sea caves, all alongside a group of people who knew we could come to one another throughout the semester. During Orientation, we continued diving into the unknown when we walked around Clark Halls meeting our class as we knocked on each door.
As the semester continued, I found opportunities to expand my horizons through a multitude of retreats. Through one hosted by the Dallas Willard Center and Martin Institute, I learned about knowing God as a friend, a concept that largely shaped how I walked with God the rest of the year, deepening my understanding of friendships such that the one I had with Christ influenced those I had with my peers. Peppered throughout the school year were retreats that ranged from engaging the world through a global lens to conversations on the liberal arts. Each of these experiences opened my eyes to another aspect of the world, enlarging the perspectives through which I saw the place I lived in.
Perhaps one of the most impactful retreats was Connect, hosted by Intercultural Programs (ICP). During this weekend, I engaged with understanding my racial identity, especially in light of the kingdom of God, guided by the stories faculty, staff, and peers shared about their experiences. I learned how important culture is to who I am today, and was able to continue this conversation through multiple events hosted throughout the year, from The Next Step to the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation Conference at Biola University. During this participation in multiple retreats, I heard the voices of Westmont and first met some of the people who would come to play a role in my life.
In my second year, I joined the College Choir, an experience that has changed my life for the better. Growing up singing and being sung over, I had stowed away my dreams of musical theatre and marching band, and could not imagine the wonderful community that has taught me a greater passion for worship through music, friends, and hospitality, praising God together in the good news of the gospel. This was further supplemented by the discipleship through the Spiritual Formation Coordinator program that opened a space to practice spiritual disciplines in community and share the strong teachings we learned through mentorship with our neighbors in the residence halls.
Diving into academic opportunities my first year, I had the privilege of conducting research during two summers at Westmont, walking the streets, beaches, and coffee shops of the Santa Barbara I live in with the people I have come to treasure so deeply. Now in my third year, I am grateful for the relationships that have deepened over the years from the ways God has been shaping my heart and opening my mind to see His kingdom on earth and ears to the stories of His people. In the search of a church home in college, I learned about traditions of different members of the body and the various ways my brothers and sisters in Christ come together to praise His mighty name. Whether through a weekly fellowship gathering, the welcoming of my neighbor with open arms through Orientation Team, or even learning from the administration as an Academic Liaison on the Westmont College Student Association, I praise God for the ways He is at work in my life, and I look forward to the ways He continues to do so.