XASS: Caleb, welcome! Where are you from?
Caleb: I’m from a lovely little town called Philomath Oregon. We’re about an hour and a half south of Portland, about 20 minutes west of Oregon State. They’re in our PAC 12 League, so if you’re familiar with the orange and black football team that always loses, that’s right around where I’m from!
XASS: Being from the West Coast, Stanford looms large if you’re considering top tier universities. Was it that simple for you or was there some extra reason that you were drawn to Stanford?
Caleb: I love my family and I love being close to my family, so for me it was pretty much Oregon State or Stanford. Stanford was the only place dramatically cool enough to make it worth the distance from home.
XASS: Some Oregonians have an instinctive dislike of California. Was that something you had to overcome in order to attend here?
Caleb: Not particularly. My dad grew up in San Jose back in the day, so this is a place that I feel familiar with even though I’ve never lived here. My dad has always told me stories about growing up in the bay, so it’s- it’s been cool to be on his old stompin’ grounds. My great grandparents were pastors at a church around here too! All this to say, I don’t hate California too much.
XASS: I suspect you’re coming from a faith-filled background. How were you raised religiously?
Caleb: Yeah, I was. I was blessed to be raised in an incredible Christian family. My dad is virtually the cloning template for myself, my brother is just the coolest, my sisters and I vibe so well, and I have a great relationship with my mom… Maybe that’s ‘cause I was homeschooled… Who knows? I’ve gone to Calvary Corvallis for the vast majority of my life. In fact, my parents have been there since before I was born, so I’ve grown up in that church. My parents taught Sunday school back in second and third grade, and we’ve had a wonderful Housechurch group for over a decade. So yeah, I’ve been raised in the faith which has been really wonderful.
XASS: How did you initially connect with Chi Alpha?
Caleb: You know, I’m sad it took me as long to connect with y’all as it did. I first found… I think it was Stanford Christian Students online before coming to campus, and I just figured that was like the only group that had, well, all the Stanford Christian students! Silly me. I believe the first time I saw Chi Alpha was somewhere over in White Plaza. XA had a little tent and table set up and Glen did his bit about chicken sacrifices which was great and there were guitar picks that said Chi Alpha on them and I was like, “Oh! These people probably do worship right!” I’ve been hooked ever since.
XASS: Outstanding! Very, very cool. What are you thinking you might major in? Have you declared yet?
Caleb: I have not. I’m sort of prowling around these three different genres and I’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle. I’m fascinated by computery, gadgety things but I’m not a huge fan of coding so CS is sort of in there. And I love building LEGOs and things that move, so there’s sort of this mechanical engineering side of me, and then I also really like people and marketing and design and that public speaking kind of aspect. So I’m slowly sort of circling between the three and hopefully I’ll end up at the bottom of that spiral with a solid singular point. Right now I’m rolling toward the Mech E side of the circle.
XASS: You want to be Elon Musk!
Caleb: *laughing* Yeah, I dunno… Maybe with fewer memes.
XASS: Do you have hobbies or interests that are nonacademic in nature? What do you do for fun?
Caleb: I love music. There’s something about its nexus of art, math, and worship that really resonates with me – no pun intended. Growing up, my dad would always sing worship with my mom in the evenings before we went to bed, and I picked up a lot of vocals/harmony from her. I learned the guitar in 8th grade since my dad always had one lying around, and Wiley’s actually been teaching me piano which has been great! So yeah, lots of fun instruments.
XASS: Very cool.
XASS: Shifting a little bit, would you say that Stanford has overall been positive, neutral, or negative for your faith?
Caleb: Very positive. There’s been a combination of things, really. Chi Alpha has been a really great community. The church I was from just didn’t really have that too much in the youth sector. They had a youth group and I was a part of the worship there, which is sort of how I got into that. But there wasn’t quite the same energy and passion that there is here, so that’s been really inspiring here. I also think the fact that all of the Christian things I do are now my decision and mine alone has given me the ability to fully claim my faith as my own, which has been really surprisingly fun. And I think there’s also something about the fact that I’m sort of a stranger here and nobody knows me, so I am able to have more interesting conversations with people. Back home, everyone knew “Oh yeah, that’s Caleb. He’s a Christian kid and he’d love to tell you about it,” whereas here people can be like “What’s your purpose in life? Where are you going?” And I can say, “Well, let me tell you!” I think all those things together have just been really great for me.
XASS: Do you have a favorite Bible verse or passage?
Caleb: I have two honorable mentions. It’s tough to pick a favorite! I’ve always loved Micah 6:8. My brother is actually named Micah after this verse. “He has shown you O man what is good and this is what the Lord requires of you: seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” We’ve actually sung a song based on that in Chi Alpha lately which has been nice. The other one I’ve loved which guides a lot of my persuasive endeavors is Proverbs 25:15, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” I’ve always loved it because 25 and 15 are very nice numbers, but it’s also a thing I try to live by. I tend to be more argumentative than I ought to be, and I’ve realized that being gentle and being patient can often convince someone and portray a point much better.
XASS: If I was to Google stalk you what’s the most surprising thing I would find?
Caleb: I don’t know if you’d find too much. I did a little program for the last couple years of high school where I repaired computers for kids. We were in a very rural, low-technology town and we were all doing zoom school and kids were trying to do all sorts of tasks on chromebooks – very poor chromebooks – anyways you might find something about that. I also did a little research at Oregon State in Human-Computer Interactions about how people interact with AI. I mostly transcribed Zoom videos, actually, which I imagine you’ll be doing with this script in just a little bit! I think those are probably the things you’d find about me on the interwebs.
XASS: Is there something which if I knew you better I’d be sure to ask about?
Caleb: Hmmm… let me ponder that. I love apologetics. So if anybody ever has any questions or concerns or discussions about that, or philosophy in general, I love doing that stuff. It’s a fun adventure.
XASS: Alright, final question: the classic campus spotlight series question. Caleb, are you in a relationship?
Caleb: I’m not. I mean, one of my biggest goals in life is to be a great dad, so at some point a gal has to come along, but it’s definitely not urgent. I’m not walking around with a blindfold, but I’m not digging through any bushes either, if my garden-themed analogy makes any sense!
XASS: Caleb, thank you for the time!