XASS: So we’re doing something new, which is we are revisiting an interview we did before. We interviewed Laura as a frosh, and so now we’re going to check back in with her as an upperclassman. Tell us what kind of upperclassman you are, Laura.
Laura: I am a junior-ish. As in, I came in as a class of 2023 and I took the year off from 2020 to 2021. So I’m academically a junior, but it’s just fun to call myself a senior because it makes me feel old and mature and just slightly better than the other juniors. So yeah – I’m Laura and I’m one of the worship leaders and also the vice president of Chi Alpha. I’m from Fort Myers, Florida.
XASS: What’s campus been like for you spiritually? How would you describe how you’ve grown in the intervening years?
Laura: Oh, how I’ve grown in the years! I think something I have really loved about being part of Chi Alpha is that it’s been a really big source of spiritual growth in my life.
I joined Chi Alpha freshman year, which was awesome. But I didn’t plug into the community fully at first. It has become more and more my community over time. Over my gap year, I went to a Bible college called Christ For The Nations in Dallas, Texas, which was a big part of my spiritual growth. And I think that was really where I just fell in love with God again. He became my best friend and I began to fall in love with the Word for the first time and got this fresh revelation and encouragement that has continued to support me and renewed my desire to continually seek God.
And so during that year, I also led a Chi Alpha life group on Zoom. Which was amazing! I miss meeting with my group on Zoom, actually. Which is kind of crazy because COVID was terrible! But I loved my Zoom life group so much. It’s actually ridiculous. Like, it has such a special place in my heart.
And I think seeing the way that God encountered each of us, even though we were all living in four separate places, was amazing. Absolutely amazing. My roommate from last year is someone I met through that life group. Last year back on campus I also led an in-person life group. I also started leading worship for the first time in my life and I really grew so much with the Lord last year also, which is so exciting because I think I was super scared that my spiritual growth was just going to be relegated to my time at the Bible college. But back at Stanford, I actually grew a lot and the Lord spoke to me and I really saw the ways that the Lord had called me to discipleship and mentorship. Leading my life group was a huge blessing. And I also had cool moments with God on campus, like learning to pray for things and hearing God speak to me in my dorm room and like trying to figure out, okay, like how can I worship in front of people but not be performative and sort of like reshuffling my thoughts. Questions like “What does ministry mean? How do I rest with God? What does it mean to know God intimately?” And I think that’s been a big part of my journey here. And then this year, being an R.A. is awesome. I really see it as ministry because it’s such a position of authority that you actually get to have over your freshman and you get to pray over your dorm and talk to frosh.
I didn’t have an R.A. who was a Christian my freshman year. None of my RAs were Christian. And I think there’s something really special about seeing an older Stanford student who is firm in their faith. It makes you feel like, “That could happen for me. I could stay with my faith during my time at Stanford and grow in my faith during my time at Stanford.”
I won’t lie. It’s definitely been a busier quarter, which has made it kind of a hard quarter emotionally. But I feel like this week I’ve reached a point of actually like breakthrough and just kind of getting clarity about, “God, I think I see what you’re doing in my life and I’m excited.”
XASS: We asked frosh Laura what she hoped to study. What did upperclassman Laura wind up majoring in?
Laura: I am majoring in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with a focus in Education and Inequality. And I am triple minoring just like frosh Laura thought she was going to do. I’m triple minoring in psychology, modern languages and creative writing. Very fancy. It’s a lot.
XASS: And you have a sense of calling that is developing in your life. Tell us about that. What do you think God’s leading you to after Stanford?
Laura: I am planning to go into education. I think really freshman year was when I started realizing I really like teaching and like I’ve always loved working with kids. I think during my time at CFNI, God really cemented this love for kids in my heart and just a real passion to just like, see these children the way that God sees them. And so I’m going into education after I graduate, hoping to do the Stanford Teacher Education Program. But also within that, I’ve felt called to missions since I was about 13 years old. I remember being a freshman and being convinced that I had abandoned my missionary call to come to Stanford and just kind of feeling this sense of like, oh my gosh, I should just drop out and like go to the mission field because that’s what God would want me to do. I think my time at CFNI was really an understanding of “Yes, we receive calling from the Lord, but it is so much more about knowing God as the person who calls us than it is about pursuing the calling as the primary thing.” And I remember being at CFNI and being like, “God, I don’t have to go back to Stanford.” And then the Lord was like, “I want you to go back and I want you to go back as a missionary to Stanford.” And that’s totally changed my view of campus and why I’m here. That’s a large part of why I grew so much, even just last year being at Stanford instead of a Bible college. And also is, I think, partly why I chose to be an RA. The thing my heart beats for is seeing God move on campus.
XASS: What would upperclassman Laura tell frosh Laura if you met somehow?
Laura: Like if we met because of time travel? I actually think a lot about how we don’t change that much as people. Like, yes, we grow and all those things. But like I think the essence of who we are is actually really kind of stable. My mom and I talk about this a lot. She often talks about how she feels the same as she did when she was 17 and she’s like, “Yeah, things might change on the outside, but what I like and who I am and the things that make me excited haven’t really changed.”
With that being said, I think freshmen Laura was really prideful. I came into Chi Alpha feeling like, “Yeah, I’ve got this. I’ve done a lot of cool ministry things already, I was really into leadership in my youth group. I had preached a sermon already.” I was like… Laura begins laughing at herself… I was like, “I got this.” And pride keeps you from actually receiving. We see that in the Bible that when Jesus visited his hometown, they were like, isn’t this just the carpenter’s son? And they stopped receiving. And that’s partly what I did with Chi Alpha, which is why I was less involved my frosh year. So my advice to my freshman self would be, “Be humble.”
And if you’re in a place of feeling like you know everything, you should sit down and reevaluate with God and ask Him for His thoughts. Like, there are angels in heaven who worship God every single day and they will continue to worship God for all of eternity and I’m pretty sure they don’t get bored! They constantly see some new aspect of God. And so if you feel like you know everything, you don’t. Ask God to reveal something new about Himself to you because your world is about to get rocked, which is definitely something I would tell freshman Laura.
Also I think I would… I don’t know. I think about the community I had freshman year. I was really close to my freshman dorm friends and as a result, I was in places and in situations where I got emotionally hurt or was surrounded by things that weren’t that great for me. Even if I wasn’t partaking in them, I was just there. And I would tell freshman Laura to be careful about what you say yes to, because we can often invite things into our lives that are just like, straight up, not good for us. And Stanford moves very fast. If you don’t stop to think about your choices, you will end up making choices that if you had slowed down, you wouldn’t have said yes to that thing. And I think that goes for every decision we make. Clubs we join, classes we take, literally everything we do.
XASS: So as a frosh we asked you how you got involved in Chi Alpha / why you chose Chi Alpha. Now, I want to ask you what have you come to love about this community? And what do you dream for it? What do you hope to see God do in Chi Alpha?
Laura Yeah, I love this community! I love that we love God together. I think that’s really cool. Last year I remember I would meet with my life group girls all the time. I always had a dinner or lunch date with my girls. And something I love about Chi Alpha is that we are a community that we actually are part of each other’s lives and we ask each other questions and we want to be involved in the day to day of someone’s life.
And so that’s just really cool. A big, big reason why I joined Chi Alpha was my friend Deborah. She was an upperclassman in Chi Alpha and she would meet with me all the time and ask me how I’m doing. Honestly I just wanted to chat with her about a boy I liked and stuff like that, but she had a bigger purpose. Those conversations I think are a big reason why I ended up getting plugged into Chi Alpha. And honestly she gave me some of the most sane advice I got throughout my freshman year. The difference between her perspective and the perspective of my freshman friends was huge. So it’s an encouragement, I think, to life group leaders: if you’re meeting with someone and you feel like, “gosh, this isn’t going anywhere,” believe me, it is going somewhere! There will be fruit. There will be fruit. I promise! And so I love that we are committed to mentoring and discipleship and like being poured into while pouring out also. And I think that’s really special because we miss out on so much when we don’t get to experience discipleship in the way that God intended it. That was His final command to go and make disciples and go out there and go talk to people.
And so what I pray for is that God would move on this campus, that the power of the Holy Spirit would come and we would be filled not just with the fruit of the the Spirit but also with the gifts of the Spirit. That there would be healings and you would hear crazy stories of things happening in dorm rooms and that God would move in supernatural and powerful ways in every little section of this campus, like no corner of this campus would be untouched by the presence of God.
XASS: Alright. Laura, a very important question remains. It is the legendary Spotlight Series question. Laura, are you in a relationship?
Laura: Yes, I am. I am in a relationship.
XASS: Would you tell us more about that?
Laura: I would love to talk more about it! I’m in a relationship with someone named Elijah. Not Elijah Kim. Love him. Icon. CS god. Yeah, truly, but my Elijah is someone I met over the summer while I was working in Fort Worth as a teacher. He was in charge of the 10th grade program at the same place that I was working. So I was teaching seventh graders and he was teaching 10th graders and we met. You want to be with someone who being a Christian is not just a part of their lives, but it is the center of their lives and everything else they do flows out of that. And I think that that’s really what I see in Elijah. He’s incredibly kind, loves the Lord so much. He’s someone who prays, who’s so obedient to God. He is a ninth grade biology teacher at a high school in Fort Worth. He’s doing his second year of Teach for America. He studied biochemistry in college and really loves God and is awesome. Like truly, truly awesome. To anyone reading this interview – you can ask me questions about him. I love talking about him!
XASS: You heard her, people! Ask her personally so she gets to gush about him. Thank you so much for taking the time. May God bless you as you finish your bachelor’s at Stanford and then move on to the STEP program and then move forth into His calling for you!