Know who you are and whose you are.
C.A.S.S: Thank you so much Carra! How has your day been?
I’m good! It’s been a very calm day because for the very first time in a long time I don’t have Friday classes.
C.A.S.S: Oh Really? That’s nice! Anyways so Carra, for how long have you been a member of Chi Alpha?
Since my freshman fall. So, Holly Dayton actually was like “Hey, you wanna go to this thing?” and I was like “Okay” and she kept dragging me and it kinda became home.
C.A.S.S: Oh interesting! Anyways, we just want to get to know a bit about you, your background, your family, etc.
Ok sure, I guess we will start with home. I am from Arlington, Texas, which is the city that is two cities down from Dallas and one city down from Fort Worth. So, Dallas is East, Fort Worth is west and Arlington is right in the middle. Most people live in suburbs, so I grew up pretty suburban, pretty middle class. My family is kinda complicated but super interesting. I’ve got my mum, my dad… I have a step mum; my dad is remarried. I have a younger sister and then I have a step brother on my dad’s side. My mum was married twice and so from that side I have an ex-step sister and an ex-step brother.
C.A.S.S: Ok Carra, just a bit about your time here at Stanford, what’s your major?
I am a linguistics major
C.A.S.S: Ooh Nice, how has that been like?
It’s been cool and particularly for me when I got here, I was super interested in second language acquisition. And as I spent time here, I came to truly appreciate how much power language has. And understanding how much power it has and understanding that because language is how we express our world views, it super important and it should be studied and valued and treasured because I think a lot of us have thoughts about language that are very implicit. There’s not a whole lot of meta-cognition about language. We do so much and the way that people talk matters and so getting to study those interactions in very cool.
C.A.S.S: That’s indeed really cool. Ok so what are some other languages you have worked with?
I’ve done Spanish for as long as I can remember. My Spanish is passable; it’s still not great in my opinion. And my dad’s parents were deaf so I grew up with sign language in my house and I also studied it while I was here. So I took two years of it while I was here. I can get around with sign language in Spanish but I don’t feel confident in it as I do in English. And I took one quarter of ancient Aztec too.
C.A.S.S: Oh wow! I actually didn’t know they were sign languages in different languages.
Yeah they do. So there’s American sign language, there’s British sign language and the French one too. Actually French and American are way more related because French sign language was modified to become American sign language.
C.A.S.S: That’s super interesting. Ok moving on. So Carra, if you were to characterize your four years of Stanford into a single phrase, what will it be?
Oohhhh, that’s hard. That’s so hard. I haven’t though of that. Probably “everywhere I went, I was running”.
C.A.S.S: Ooohhh nice.. Really? Interesting.
I did a lot during my Stanford career and I have kept really busy. I think partially, it’s because I am a person who gets home sick and so I used to plan to make sure I had something to do for the day I was getting home. I think being busy has been a way for me to stay grateful. Both grateful for free time and grateful for the amount of things I have gotten to do.
C.A.S.S: Nice, that’s deep. So Carra, as I told Sam, I have admired you guys from afar. I really appreciate what you guys do for God especially in the black community and so I would like to talk about the Sunday rides to NBCC and how that came about.
Ok so I have to give a lot of credit to Elise for this because she was like “I wanna go to church. Can somebody give me a ride to church?” and she asked about it. Elise and I have been prayer partners since freshman year. So during one bible study session, she said people kept cancelling on the rides and were being flaky with the rides and I said “Here’s what we do”. One thing that I am good with is details. And so, we started working together. And our junior year, we were each abroad different quarters and so we each had to do it our own at different points and from that we realized that Oh, we could also do this independently of each other. And we so we decided that she going to spend a lot more time on the Bible and I was going to spend a lot of time on the bus.
C.A.S.S: There you go!
Yeah, but the story of how we got the bus is really cool and a testimony.
C.A.S.S: Sure, I would love to hear that.
So, it was three weeks before Easter and people were like we wanna go to church. And it was people who weren’t normally riding on to church with us and we only had four cars. So, we emailed the Black House and asked if they had a bus but didn’t hear back from them for a while. So NBCC (New Beginnings Community Church) had 3 services at different times on Sunday and Elise would lead the bus for the 8 o’clock service and I would for the 10 o’clock service. And so Elise asked the driver and he goes like “Oh, I know somebody at the church who has a bus!” and he spoke to some people, they agreed to give us a bus for free at cost to the church. So, we get a 30-seater bus and we have 40 people sign up.
Okay! We need to figure out some way for these 10 people to go to church, right? So Elise and I are at a Bible study and I get an email “Did you say something about a bus?” from the Black House. “Yeah, we will get you a 30-seater bus”. So, that year we took 65 people to church for Easter! And the church saw that and they’re like there are all these Stanford students who wanna come to church, we can do this every week! (Praise Jesus!!!!) and they have been doing this every week. It’s been a huge blessing to us because it’s a lot less planning and it means people can bring their friends.
And I get to meet a lot of Christians. A lot of people actually surprise me; I once met this kid who I thought was a staunch Atheist. We once had this conversation in the graveyard about the end of life and he was like “Yhup! I’m very clear, there is no God. I’m gonna cease to exist after I die”. And one day this dude gets on the bus to church and I had to do a lot of fixing my face. I was completely surprised.
Your opportunity, you being put in this place of power is more than just about you. You can do so many important things for God’s people and His kingdom.
C.A.S.S: Okay so aside organizing the bus rides, I know you’re in several other Christian organizations on campus.
Yeah, I led a Bible study with Elise for two year, which is Black Campus Ministry. It’s run through Intervarsity but we have a lot of freedom. It’s specifically set out for Black students. My freshman year, there was a huge group of seniors that did a lot of taking care of us and I think that it stuck with us. We explore the Bible not only from the perspective of being a Christian but also from the perspective of being a Black Christian and so there are things that we talk about like Hip Hop and the Bible. You know what does the Bible say about music and the music that we’re putting into our souls. What does the Bible say about Black Lives Matter? How can you be a Christian and an activist at the same time? and should you? And what does that look like? Elise and I have grown a lot together as friends and leaders in that space. I have also been a member of the gospel choir for 4 years and I directed it last year with Sam. It’s an incredibly rewarding group and a huge home for me. And then I’m at Chi Alpha all the time and Ivy when I can be.
C.A.S.S: Nice, Carra! Ok, so I ask my next question especially for folks new to Christianity. So, if you would, can you elaborate on a time when you a particular difficulty in your walk with God? How did it look like and how did you go about it?
Yeah, I have a couple few. Uhm, I think the one I will talk about though us when I was getting ready to turn 16. So my parents were divorced and my dad was a pastor, so I have always had God in my life – God was a fact like gravity – I gave my life to Christ when I was nine, summer camp, very quintessential Christian kid experience. But anyways, my parents were divorced when I was eight, they were in and out of court with custody issues for me and my sister until I was about 16. So although my childhood was very happy, this was something going on in the background. And around the time I was 15, I was going to a school that I really didn’t like and it was causing a lot of problems with my relationship with my dad. Like I did very well academically in the school but socially I was really struggling and I had just gotten on Facebook. So one of my cousins popped up on Facebook and I decided to contact him. We had other cousins staying over in our house in December and one of them was turning 29. So, she was there for her birthday weekend and my birthday was a week afterwards. I’m sorry about all these details, I promise this will all make sense in minute.
C.A.S.S: Hahhahaha, don’t worry.
Okay so this is that night, and my cousins live in Tyler, Texas which is about 3 hours away. They were getting ready to leave and my dad was getting ready to take my sister and I back to our mum’s. I had just had a major blow out with my dad and we still weren’t cool. But like, we come outside and my dad was out saying “No, No, No..” and we’re like “What? What? What?…” and so the cousin I had just seen on the internet that day had been found dead. He and my dad’s friend, both of which had lived with me at some different points of my life had been shot in a trailer. My dead cousin, little Mark (even at 27), had 2 kids. He’s gone through a rough patch in his life but he was an incredibly lovable human being. This man could make you laugh like nobody’s business. He let his kid have a goat as a pet. And I remember that was the first day that I fell on my knees and cried in grief about anything. It was one of the hardest nights I have ever spent – I spent probably an hour in prayer and that was one the longest time I had spent praying for 16-year-old me. I went to school the next morning, and everything dropped.
C.A.S.S: I’m so sorry to hear that.
I remember the choir singing to me on my 17th birthday and I remember crying because I knew where I was the year before and I just being loved and watch out for. And so, till this day, I get really emotional when people sing to me on my birthday because it is a reminder. They eventually found the guy who murdered my cousin and were going to try him but it got dropped for a judicial issue. So, we’re probably never probably going to get justice for him. But just realizing that that was sad and being able to move forward was very important. I don’t think I was ever angry at God per se but I was wondering where God was in that situation and Him showing up in my friends singing to me on my birthday and being to show up for me. And so I can’t presume it was God’s plan for him to die at 27 but I have also seen a lot of good coming out of that ugly situation. For one it has brought the family so much together.
Long pause of reflection.
C.A.S.S: I’m so sorry for your loss Carra.
Yeah it’s part of the reason I think about the Law. Take the death penalty for instance. Coming from Texas, it has always been an issue and this whole situation made me realize that I hold a lot more questions about it than I thought I did.
C.A.S.S: Speaking about Law school, I wanted to ask this question later but I do know you’re going to Law school this fall. How did that come about and would you say this particular scenario influenced your decision?
Yes and No. So, I knew I wanted to go to Law school from before I got out of Law school. I wanted to work for the FBI actually. So Language, Law; those are two strong ways to get in. But as the political climate has changed and thinking about all of these people I come in contact with, they could use Lawyers that are affordable and really are willing to advocate for them. And especially once the presidential election happened, I realized I can the skills I acquired here at Stanford to advocate for people and it does not have to cost an arm or a leg. My mom owns her own her own practice and her policy is that I’m gonna charge for I’m worth but like also I’m not gonna charge people for more than what they can pay. So, that’s always been really important.
C.A.S.S: That’s nice! When did you find about Law school?
That’s another hilarious story. So, I’m an RA in flomo and there’s a bird in our Laundry room so I had to call animal control and so all Stanford’s numbers are 650 723. So, on Monday, this unknown number calls me. Also, I only applied to Stanford and I had a fight with my dad about the fact that I didn’t apply to any of the other top 3 Law schools. I knew I wanted to work with people and I was like I can’t go into that much debt if I wanna be affordable. So, I ended up getting this call from the 650 723 number and I thought it was animal control. So, I open my phone and I hear “this is Stanford Law admissions, we’re calling about your applications”. And I’m like what did I forget? What now? They’re like “congratulations, you’re in!”.
C.A.S.S: Oh my God!
I actually did get goose bumps here.
“Ohhh cool!”. You know just like speechless because I was expecting to answer questions about this bird. And so, I went on to grapple with it for over a month; I toured 8 schools, was not sure I was going to stay and I went to pray about it because it was a decision between Stanford and NYU. And so sometime in April, I got my Stanford award letter and told myself “this is where you’re staying”.
C.A.S.S: Well, we’re glad we will still have you around. What’s your favorite Bible verse?
So, I have two. I think the big one that just drives my Stanford career is Esther 4:14.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
It’s one of the things that I think the most about. Your opportunity, you being put in this place of power is more than just about you. You can do so many important things for God’s people and His kingdom. The other one is the love passage (1 Corinthians 13:4 -7).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
C.A.S.S: Thank you Carra. Ok so my next question is: Are you dating?
No. I, for a very long period, really struggled with the idea of love and being loved partially just because like my parents are divorced. I didn’t have a lot of examples of what two people in a committed relationship looked like. My dad remarried when I was 16 – my step mum is the best, I am convinced I have the best step mum in the world – and it was the first time I was witnessing what a marriage looks like and it really influenced how I did relationships.
C.A.S.S: Any final words Carra?
I think a big one is just deep breaths. Know who you are and whose you are. And it’s okay if people don’t agree with you. It’s okay if people don’t think as much of you as you would like because you have a God who loves and cares about you and who knows you deeply.
If you don’t have all the answers, that’s okay. That’s why we believe in God.
Also be busy, do a lot of things and enjoy what you do. And when you don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing the wrong thing. And also take time to rest. Take time to reflect too. Remember, Stanford is not the end of the world. The world is bigger than Stanford and you are bigger than Stanford. You’re still worth so much more than you Stanford ID.
Thank you so so much Carra!