XASS: Thank you for joining me today, Grace. Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from and what are you hoping to major in?
Grace: I’m from Joplin, Missouri – it’s in the southwest corner – and I’m planning on majoring in psychology and linguistics. We’ll see how that turns out, I might end up minoring in linguistics, but right now the plan is to double major.
XASS: That’s a really interesting combination. Why those two?
Grace: I plan on going to law school, so you can major in basically anything you want for that. I came in planning on doing political science, actually, because that seemed like a more traditional route. But I took linguistics having no idea what it was fall quarter of my freshman year and just really enjoyed it. I took a couple more linguistics classes and decided that I wanted to pursue that as a major. And basically the same thing happened with psychology. I took AP psychology in high school, so I had a better idea of what that would entail coming in, so that was like my backup plan if I didn’t like political science.
XASS: You came from southwest Missouri out to California. What about Stanford drew you?
Grace: I like the academic rigor – I wanted to be challenged. And I mean it’s kind of hard to turn down Stanford when they say that they want you, you know? And California… I wanted to come here because it’s so beautiful. I thought it’d be a happy place.
XASS: And how did you stumble upon Chi Alpha?
Grace: I knew that I wanted to be involved in some sort of campus ministry, so I just started googling Stanford campus ministries. I saw the Chi Alpha website and it was super informative and I thought that I could definitely find a good life group to be a part of. It just seemed like the best option. And at the virtual student activities fair I went to the XA zoom and people were just so welcoming and I figured it would be a good place to be.
XASS: Alright, so it sounds as though you were raised in some sort of a Christian family or churchgoing environment. Tell me about that. What was your background like spiritually?
Grace: I definitely grew up in church with my family. I remember being very young and deciding that I needed to accept Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior and being so afraid to tell my mom for some reason. Like, she’s the one who’s taking me to church so she’d clearly be so excited for me, but I remember laying in bed one night and I had decided on my own to be a Christian and was like “Do I tell my mom?” *laughs* Obviously, she was excited for me! I started getting really involved in AWANA, which was a Wednesday night ministry where you memorize Bible verses and did book reports on every book of the Bible if you stuck with it through like high school. Basically I finished that out and did other studies that I led for girls my age in high school, so I was pretty involved growing up.
XASS: What kind of church was it?
Grace: Early on it was part of the Southern Baptist Convention, but basically nondenominational by the time I was in middle school. So mostly from a nondenominational background.
XASS: Do you have a favorite verse or Bible passage?
Grace: I have a couple. My favorite one is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” And the reason that one’s my favorite is it was probably the first Bible verse I ever learned because I was terrified of the dark when I was little. There’s this one corner of my bedroom specifically that no nightlight could reach, and I was convinced that the devil lived there and would hide out and wait for me to fall asleep. My mom was like, “No, you have Jesus you’ll be fine” and so she would make me repeat that verse after her every night when she tucked me into bed. And I remember always adding on “And you’re very close.” At first that was me talking to my mom – her room is just across the hall and I can run to her if I need. Later on that just became like part of the verse to me as a reminder that God is very close and I can run to Him when I am experiencing fear. He hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, so I can run to him when I am afraid and know that He’s the one that gives me the power, love and self-control.
XASS: Would you say that Stanford has been generally giving you positive trends for your faith, neutral, or has it been challenging and negative for your faith?
Grace: Definitely I’m stronger! I’ve grown a lot just from this past year, which is amazing because it’s been virtual so you think it’d be really hard to make that community but my life group specifically was a big part of my freshman year. It gave me a family on campus. That’s where I met my current roommate, Laura. Life groups are just a great way to make connections with people who share your beliefs.
XASS: Do you have any nonacademic hobbies or passions? What are you into?
Grace: I am very involved in the Native American Community here on campus. I’m Cherokee from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and so I knew that I wanted to be involved with that community coming into college. I’m actually considering specializing in tribal law or federal Indian law for law school. I am currently serving as alumni coordinator for the Stanford American Indian organization and I’m Powwow co-chair this year. I also love to dance. I’ve not joined any official clubs or anything, but I want to go to different workshops and social dance hours and maybe even take a ballet or social dance class here on campus. A couple of times now I have gone out to the balcony in our dorm and just put my Air Pods in and listened to music and danced on my own. That’s what I do to kind of be at peace and disconnect from the rest of the world.
XASS: Okay, that’s great. Is there anything else I would ask you about if I knew you better?
Grace: Yes, so I actually worked for two years as a park ranger with the national park service. I started volunteering at a national monument- it was George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri. I started there when I was 15 and had just finished up my freshman year. I had been going there since I was little because that’s kind of like the field trip spot for my school. I really loved it and started volunteering there and then was offered a position as a park ranger intern, because you’re not like a full time ranger because you’re in school still.
XASS: That’s super cool! All right, Grace, it’s time for the final question. Are you in a relationship?
Grace: I am not in a relationship, no. I am single.
XASS: Contentedly so or are you scanning the horizon?
Grace: Both. *laughter* I’m contentedly single but I would like to one day be married and have children, and so I guess I am scanning. *laughter* But not like “Oh, I really feel like I need to be in a relationship.” Right now, I’m happy to kind of sit back and enjoy the singlehood for a bit.
XASS: Grace, thank you for the time. It’s been an awesome interview.