XASS: Where are you from and what do you hope to major in?
Laura: I’m a frosh from Fort Myers, Florida, and I’m hoping to major in linguistics and then maybe triple minor in Modern Languages, Education, and Human Rights. That could still change, but that’s what I’m thinking right now.
XASS: Wow, so many minors! Why linguistics?
Laura: So I was raised bilingual. I always grew up speaking both Portuguese and English, and I got to watch my parents learn English. When I was a kid, I was always the kind of person who loved reading and loved writing, and I always liked English and vocabulary and stuff like that in school. So I was always really interested in how Portuguese made it easier for me to understand English and that was something that was always on my mind. Then one day I just googled jobs for “people who like words or who like language, and then linguistics came up and I was like, “This is great!” Then I watched a TED talk about this lady who did sociolinguistics research and I was like, this is it. This is what I want to do. It’s so cool. So I guess that’s kind of how it came to be.
XASS: How old were you when you left Brazil?
Laura: I was actually born here, but my parents are both Brazilian and so my whole family’s Brazilian and a lot of my family’s here. So that culture is a big part of my life.
XASS: I see. Do you have any siblings?
Laura: Yeah, I have a younger sister. Her name is Isabel. She’s 16 and she’s my best friend in the world. I love her to death, and she is the kindest, most amazing, greatest person in the world.
XASS: So what brought you to Stanford?
Laura: I never really had a dream school for most of my life, and then the summer before my senior year, I started doing a lot more research into the colleges that I wanted to go to and I remember looking at Stanford. And actually, the summer before I applied, we went to California for the first time, and my dad was like, “Let’s visit the campus,” and I was like, “I would never go to Stanford. Why would we ever visit the campus? That’s just ridiculous. I’m never gonna apply there like, let’s not do it.” But then, you know, one day I was doing research and just looking at the website and I remember I started crying. I was like, this is a perfect school. It has everything that I want. It has all the classes I was interested in, all the majors I was interested in. It was in a beautiful sunny place and because I’m from Florida, I wanted to be somewhere warm. It just seemed like everything I wanted and then from then on, it was my dream school for the rest of my senior year. It was the only school I wanted to go to. It was also the last school I heard back from. I always say the day I got in was the happiest day of my life, I was so excited.
XASS: What hobbies do you have?
Laura: I’ve been doing dance, or I did dance I guess, for about 14 years. I started taking dance classes when I was four and then have always done dance kind of just casually. When I was in high school, I got really into it. And so I started doing a lot more ballet and other styles, and I also started teaching dance for four and five year olds, which was really fun. I loved doing that. I also love to read. My absolute favorite thing to do in the world is reading! I love it so much. Let’s see. I think I’m an artistic person, question mark. I consider myself creative so listening to music, drawing, watching movies, doing some theater, all those kinds of things. I was in Gaieties fall quarter which was a really great time. I also try to do a lot of service. At Stanford, I mentor middle school girls once a week, or I used to. I was also the frosh service liaison for my dorm. I like being outside a lot, but I don’t know if I’m outdoorsy. I was thinking about this the other day: I’m not outdoorsy but I like nature, so I don’t know how that really works together. I like to do my homework outside and go for walks and watch the sunset and just spend time with my family.
XASS: What genres do you like reading the most?
Laura: I’m a fiction person. I am so bad about reading nonfiction. I try so hard to read biographies and books that actually teach me something. And I can’t do it. I’m like, only fiction. I try to read pretty much everything. My favorite book of all time is The Little Prince. Just like a short little French book, although I read it in English. I just finished rereading Harry Potter, which was a good time. I just try to read as much as I can.
XASS: Were you raised in a churchgoing family?
Laura: I was. Yeah. So we went to a Brazilian church when I was a kid, and then when I was in third grade, we started going to an American church that was actually an Assemblies of God church. I did Fine Arts and mainly the category of short sermon. I’m an AG baby just like Nathaniel… My parents are both Christian. Faith is a really big part of my family, which I feel really lucky to have because I know that so many people grew up in families where faith is not a big thing, and it really was always a big part of my life. So I feel really blessed to have that.
XASS: How has Stanford been for your faith?
Laura: It might just be rough because I’m in my first year, but now I think we’re on the path for growth. The first two quarters were really tough, because at home, I had a really great church family and a really awesome church. I’ve always been really connected to it. Almost all of my friends were at church and I was always spending my free time at church and so it always felt like I had easy access to God and things about faith. And so I think coming to Stanford and then having, you know, not all of my friends are Christian. And most times, we’re not talking about God. It’s not as easy to have the topic of God come up in a conversation. It does come up, but not quite as often as it did before. So I think those first two quarters helped me realize how much it needs to be my personal choice. Like my relationship with God needs me to take action and me to choose to spend time with Him and put effort into my relationship with Him. And then now with spring quarter being at home and having a lot more free time…. The last two quarters have just shown me how desperately I need God to be in my life. And so I think we’re on the path towards growth.
XASS: Do you have a favorite Bible verse or passage?
Laura: I love 1 Peter 5:7. It has been my favorite verse for a while, which says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” I love that verse, because I think I can be a little bit anxious sometimes or just tend to sort of worry about the future, or just have all these worries and things going around in my mind. The idea that God not only has a hold on everything that I’m worried about, but He actually cares about the things that I care about and the things that I worry about. It’s just a beautiful message to me.
XASS: So we’re in the season of pandemic and lockdown. How has that affected you? Do you have any advice for everyone else on how to handle the season?
Laura: Yeah, I think it’s affecting me. Yesterday, I was just talking to my mom about how I like to be outside, just doing things all the time. I like to be going places and always moving. So having to be in one place… it’s kind of hard sometimes. And I wasn’t expecting to be back home at all, and now I’m at home and doing school. It’s been hard to be able to concentrate and find a balance between spending time with family and deciding to sit down and do homework. I think my advice to the Chi Alpha community would be to just talk to people. With quarantine and isolation, it can be really easy to just sort of think, “Oh, everybody’s busy” because it’s not as easy to talk to people as it is at Stanford. I can’t just pop into someone’s dorm room anymore. Like you actually need to make time to FaceTime them or to text them or call them. But I would say don’t let that hold you back. Just try and make even more opportunities to talk to people and connect with people. I know it makes me feel better and makes me feel less alone. I think that’s what the body of Christ is built for, fellowship and us being able to talk to each other.
XASS: All right, the classic Chi Alpha spotlight series question: Laura. Are you in a relationship?
Laura: No, and I think that I’m content with it right now. I trust in God’s timing and that when things are supposed to happen, they’ll happen. So….
XASS: Awesome. Thank you for your time!