XASS: Nadia, welcome to your second spotlight series interview. What year are you in school now?
Nadia: I am a junior. I was originally part of the class of 2023, but took a gap year, so now I’m a junior.
XASS: And what are you majoring in?
Nadia: Political science. I’ve never changed it because international students have to pick a major that is related to what you want to do internships in. But I have thought in hindsight that I would have been happiest if I majored in English. That’s why I added a minor in creative writing, and that’s probably been the most intellectually rewarding part of Stanford in terms of classes. Talking about literature and giving feedback to other Stanford people about art is just so interesting, and it really nourishes your soul, you know?
XASS: Fascinating! And what do you want to do when you graduate?
Nadia: I’m broadly interested in public policy. Government-adjacent things that have a positive social impact.
XASS: What about your Stanford journey would surprise frosh Nadia?
Nadia: I would say how unconventional my college experience has been. There have been a lot of messy parts. I’ve had to look outside college itself to find fulfillment or growth during my college years. Stanford didn’t, or couldn’t, be the magical “missing puzzle piece” that changed my life. A lot of my growth came from the years that passed by while I was at Stanford. I’ve explored all over California – Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento. In some ways I had more failures than successes, and that was really new for me and taught me new life lessons. I would also be surprised at how I’ve moved away from and returned back to old passions and explored new passions.
XASS: Tell me about how your interests and activities have changed over your time at Stanford.
Nadia: So I became an RA because I really like spending Stanford’s money, and I really like ordering food for free. That’s the biggest appeal. And I’ve leaned back into my performing arts side because it was really hard to do that during COVID. I restarted cello lessons. When COVID happened, I had to quit fun ensemble music stuff like orchestra and chamber music, and then I felt like I didn’t have time to continue them because I thought, “Writing on your resume that you spent 5 hours a week on orchestra doesn’t show why you deserve to get into a company over someone else… I should do an academic club instead.” But now, after trying so hard to fill up my resume with all the pre-professional and academic stuff, I look at my friends who went all in on the arts and they had much more interesting college experiences than me. So I got the courage to jump back in. I didn’t experience normal college for two and a half years because of COVID plus my gap year. Now that I’ve finally come back to a normal school year in person, I’ve actually joined an opera, so I will be performing in an opera soon.
XASS: That’s super cool! What advice would you have for young Nadia if you met her during NSO?
Nadia: Well, this is a lesson that I really recently learned. But don’t try to plan everything for the future, because the plans will probably change. Be more comfortable with not knowing what will happen in the future and just trust the process. I would also say, don’t take everything so personally, especially related to God. I used to think right until recently that every failure and every rejection was God punishing me for something I did wrong. But now I’m just like “Okay” and I move on. I don’t have to make myself into such a tragic martyr. When one door closes, God opens another one.
XASS: How has your faith developed over your time at Stanford?
Nadia: It’s been positive, for sure. It’s a completely different ball game than all of my eighteen years of life that came before Stanford. It’s been the most stable, because I have a stable community of people my own age. And I’ve really grown to like sermons more. Before Stanford, I would just fall asleep most of the time but I liked the worship part because I like music. But actually now it’s reversed. Now I look forward to the sermon the most and a lot of times even after singing just one song I actually get tired. What I anticipate the most is “what will I learn today?” That’s been the biggest change.
XASS: In our initial interview we asked you what drew you to Chi Alpha. Now you’re a junior. What do you appreciate most about this ministry? And if you could make one change what would it be? What do you like and what would you upgrade?
Nadia: Hmm. I appreciate how we trust each other, and how we can be vulnerable with each other because you have a commonality that is deeply rooted in something meaningful and unchanging. Even with a stranger in Chi Alpha, even if you haven’t had a conversation with someone, when they share a prayer request, you really empathize with them, and you pray for them, and you can tell them about some of your deepest stories or circumstances in your life. Something I would like to change… I don’t think there is something I would like to change.
XASS: Now for the famous Spotlight Series question: Nadia, are you in a relationship?
XASS: Tell us more about that!
Nadia: I’ve been in a committed relationship with someone for a little over one and a half years and we are going strong, and I don’t want to share too much about him because it will be on the Internet. But I will say I committed a very big taboo which was dating someone who was not Christian (laughs). It was actually in line with my long streak of only dating non Christians, but with God’s grace a few months into our relationship we had a lot of conversations about seeking, and how to look at the world and live life through a Christian lens. I don’t want to say I caused him to accept Jesus, because only God can move your heart to do that, but for the first time in my life, I was in close proximity to someone who converted and received Jesus. So that has been extremely rewarding! He went to Chi Alpha at his own college, and we do devotionals together. Now that we’re both in the same place year-round (the Bay Area), we go to church together, and after each sermon is over, he’s so excited to talk about his takeaways from the sermon. The whole car ride back from church and into brunch, we talk about what we learned. It’s been so great and obviously a night-and-day difference from my previous relationships.