XASS: Welcome, Isabella. Let’s start at the basics: tell me where you’re from and what you think you might major in.
Isabella: I grew up in San Francisco and I’m likely going to major in Classics.
XASS: What about Classics draws you?
Isabella: That’s such a good question because I’m currently failing my Latin final! [fact check: she did not fail]. Actually, it’s not a final. Anyway, in middle school I started taking Latin. They offered it to us and then I decided to go Spanish and then my dad was like, “Maybe you should do Latin” and so I switched back to Latin. And it was really difficult for me, it was like my hardest class, then I got to high school. And I had a really good experience because I did poorly on the placement test. So the class was mostly review, my class was small, I was really close with my teacher, and I just kind of continued throughout high school. And I enjoyed it! It was just a positive aspect of my life and I did well. And so I was like, “Well, I should probably apply to college as a Classics major.” You know, Classics is kind of dying, Latin is already dead, and Classics doesn’t get a lot of hype. And so I decided to apply as a Classics major. I was like, “I can change later.” And then I met someone who is a Classics major interested in IR, which is what I am. And I was basically convinced to be a Classics major because the department here is really small and it has a great community, which is super important to me, and there are lots of opportunities, and then it’s also a light major load, which means I can take other classes and do different things. And senior year I got really into Latin poetry. Getting to translate something from thousands of years ago that is relatable today. And this is senior year Isabella in high school translating angsty love poetry by Catullus getting really into it thinking, I could like totally relate. Which I don’t really know what I was thinking, but yeah.
XASS: Now you mentioned you have IR ambitions. Are you hoping someday to be an ambassador or work with an NGO or have a career at State or what?
Isabella: Ambassador would be cool. Basically, I want to work for the government at some point. I’ve always known I want to serve my country, but I don’t think the military is necessarily the right route. I briefly considered applying to West Point and then didn’t. So yeah, diplomacy and things like that.
XASS: So you said no to West Point but applied to Stanford. What drew you here?
Isabella: So I’m from San Francisco so Stanford is obviously like a big thing. And my dad went to the business school here so I always heard about it growing up, about how he loves Stanford and and all these things about moving out west and when he first drove down Palm Drive and he was like, “Why would I ever live in Minnesota or New York again?” So I had like this hyped-up version of Stanford and then I used to do nerd camp during the summer, and my first two years of nerd camp were at Stanford, and so I got to live in the dorms for three weeks and take a class and do all these really cool things, and so I did that the summers before six and seventh grade and absolutely loved it. I came back one weekend and I was having lunch with my parents and I was like “I know where I want to go to college, I want to go to Stanford!” And then my dad was all “Good luck getting in!” *laughter* But here we are. I ended up at Stanford and I’m so happy I did.
XASS: How did you stumble upon Chi Alpha?
Isabella: Wait, that’s actually such a good question. I haven’t thought about this. *pause* Okay, so basically what happened was there was a group chat… no. Hang on. Okay, yeah. Backing it up even further, back to the Stanford question. I got in off the waitlist so I was late in the game, it was June 23 so I had to catch up on social media. Like, who are the people in my class? So I’m going through the little profiles and following the accounts and joining the Facebook groups. And anytime someone would post something that had Christian vibes I’d be like, “Oh my gosh, yes!”
So I saw this girl post something Christian and I DMed her saying, “Hey, I’m also Christian I saw you are, too.” And she was super sweet; she’s like, “There’s a GroupMe for Christian students. Do you want to join it?” and I was like, “Yes, please add me to it!” And it was called Stanny Admits for Jesus, and it was just all denominations of Christians who were admitted, so a bunch of 24s but also some who gapped and became 25s. So a bunch of us were in this group chat and then we ended up meeting up together and spending time together and so from that I had my original Christian community. And then they were all like Zoom church or Zoom Christian group shopping and some of them were going to XA for service, I was like okay I’ll go to Chi Alpha for service, so I pulled up. And Glen was giving this sermon and I thought it was amazing and I loved it and then never came back all year to large group! *laughs* But I thought it was so good. My dad walked in the room and was like, “Wow, this guy’s amazing!” I was like, “I know!” And then I got added to a life group and kind of pulled up like five times last year, or something. So I was just kind of loosely a fake member of Chi Alpha and then this summer I came to Glen & Paula’s house and it was lovely and then all sudden I was a life group leader and then I was just in Chi Alpha all the time and now I’ve just officially become a member way down the line.
XASS: *laughing* Talking to you is always a wild ride. So you were raised in a Christian family in San Francisco. I bet that was an unusual experience. What was it like?
Isabella: It really was unusual. I think one of the things I really appreciated was that I came from this background where like my family was conservative and Christian and all these things that were not San Franciscan. So I got that perspective at home and then I went to school where I did not have that perspective. I did go to a Catholic school: I could sign my emails saying, “God bless” and I felt comfortable talking about Jesus, but my friends weren’t really Christian. And then I went to high school and it was just like that but even more so. It was just not Christian at all and super secular, super liberal. I got good at kind of towing the line and keeping my mouth shut. It was a time. I didn’t really have Christian community. I’ve been so excited about Chi Alpha because I never really had that. I’ve had friends where I would talk about my faith but it’s just not the same, obviously, if they’re not Christian. So it was a little crazy, but I got to appreciate that I have multiple perspectives and can kind of look at different viewpoints and take what makes sense and try and consider things thoughtfully. One thing I want to keep in mind is to always remember what it’s like when your viewpoint is not like the widely held one, whether it’s about faith or something else, and to be respectful of that because that was kind of my experience for all of high school. It created uncomfortable situations, so I never want to do that to someone else if they’re the only one in the group who doesn’t share an opinion.
XASS: Do you have like a favorite Bible verse or passage?
Isabella: Okay, where’s my little janky travel Bible? Here it is! Okay, I am obsessed with, I really love Matthew 6:28-34. I went through a phase where I would read this before bed every night, and I feel like, “why do you worry about clothes and see how…” yeah. I’m a big fan. Just thinking about how God provides for us and that we shouldn’t be worried about tomorrow and tomorrow worries about itself so I’m a big fan of that. Yes.
XASS: Now you said the word obsessed. One of the things you’re known for is you have a little catch phrases. Where did that start in your life? Did you get it from your parents?
Isabella: No. So basically, I don’t know. I give people nicknames, I guess. But my parents don’t really have catchphrases I would use. Part of it, too, is bringing back the lingo of my generation and using it at home and then my family would kind of pick up on it. And people would use words that I really liked and so I would use them repeatedly. Like “obsessed” I got from one of my best friends here. Actually from her childhood friend, I was with her for a couple of days this summer, and she said “obsessed” all the time and I was like, “I’m taking that.” So I just kind of take words and use them, and then it it brings me joy when other people use the lingo. For example, I always tell my friends, I say like oh “how is your boyf” – your boyfriend – and yesterday, one of my friend says, “I just got home and my mom call my boyfriend my boyf” and I was like stop. The lingo is reaching a new generation!
XASS: What hobbies do you have outside of academics?
Isabella: I grew up ski racing and that was my goal in life. I wanted to become an Olympic ski racer and do it professionally. That was what I wanted from basically when I was like eight years old. I was super into that and I lived up in Tahoe for three months in sixth grade and then again in 10th grade, so I could ski six days a week and train really intensely. And then after 10th grade I realized, “you know what, I’m not going to make it.” It was really tough and I cried a lot. Looking back it’s like, “Okay.” But in the moment it was sad so we have grace for young Isabella. But anyways, I realized it wasn’t gonna happen and the fam was like you know, “College, you should focus on that. You’re good at school.” So I was like okay. And so, then, just went really hard with school at the end of high school. But yeah, ski racing. Love that! What else do I do? This is gonna sound like I only do school, but I really don’t do that much school. Oh wait. This is really a time. What else do I do outside of school? What hobbies do I have? This is an identity crisis! Okay, laundry makes me so happy. I know laundry is not a hobby but I do not care. It brings me absolute joy. Laundry makes me so happy. And just talking with people. I really enjoy being with people and talking to them. And caffeine! Like 100% like love, love, love coffee. I’m always drinking coffee. And baby fever, the most baby fever ever. My cousin’s baby is my phone background because I’m obsessed with this child. So not hobbies but just things that I love that take up time: drinking coffee and hanging out with babies. Here’s a hobby: my bike doesn’t work, so I have no choice but to walk everywhere. That’s my hobby.
XASS: If I was to Google-stalk you, what is the most surprising thing I might discover?
Isabella: Okay, yes, so there are pictures of me as a child with face paint. I was with my family ice skating as a little girl with a peacock on my face and I’m wearing like a little dress. There’s like random things from San Francisco stuff I went to as a kid where they took photos and then tagged it with our names. So that like legitimately will show up. Also awful videos of me skiing. Like absolutely awful videos of me skiing as a kid.
XASS: So final question: are you in a relationship?
Isabella: I am, I am! I’m dating Parker, so it’s a good time out here.
XASS: Do you have any thoughts about the virtues or the challenges of dating in college?
Isabella: So here’s my thing, because I did this for a really long time and it wasn’t smart. I know that no one in Chi Alpha would do this, but I had this thing in my head where I was always like, okay faith has to come first with whomever I date, but then I would develop feelings for guys who even though the faith was not there they checked every other box. Oh my– girl what were you thinking? That’s my thought – keep in mind that if you’re serious about your faith you want whomever you’re with to also be serious about faith as well. Can confirm, worth the wait and it’s a good time. And now I can say I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 20 and one day if I have kids I’m gonna be like, “See like I didn’t date until I was 20 and so you better not date in high school.” I’m going to be like really aggressive with my children.
XASS: This was a delightful interview, thank you for your time!