Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/13/12 (with slight changes made today).
I believe that I went to the most amazing university in existence. 🙂
When I was a sophomore/junior in high school I began sifting through the dozens of college brochures and packets that had been sent to me. I knew that I wanted to go to a Christian school, but which one was the right one? I began to pray that God would make it abundantly clear where He wanted me to do because the options were daunting.
One day the information from Azusa Pacific University caught my eye. I don’t remember what specifically it was (given that this happened over ten years ago!), but something caught my interest. Then, later that summer while at youth camp, I was talking with a friend of mine who happened to be starting at APU that fall! He told me more about their top-quality music program, the climate/culture on campus, and I was hooked. I began talking to an admissions counselor and began to be very excited.
In March of my junior year I found out about a “welcome weekend” (can’t remember what it was called) where I could go down and spend the weekend in the dorms, audition for choir, and explore the campus. I asked my parents a week or two beforehand if we could go down and thankfully they said yes! We made the 523 mile drive from Red Bluff to Azusa and that’s where it all began. From the minute that I set foot on campus I KNEW that this was where God wanted me to go.
That weekend I met my future roommate, Allison, as well as several other friends who are still part of my life. I heard the choirs (and fell in LOVE), I explored the beautiful campus, and I experienced dorm life. This was it. I didn’t apply to any other schools!
I made another visit that fall (2000) to audition for choir and the Vocal Performance program (which was my declared major at the time). I was offered a scholarship for choir and made it into the Vocal Performance program. I ultimately did not pursue a Vocal Performance degree, but instead chose Political Science and American History (why? I have no idea, since I have no interest in a political career anymore, but it is where God led me).
After spending the summer of 2001 in Sacramento interning for a lobbying firm, I headed down to Azusa that August. My friend Allison and I had decided to room together and we applied early enough to get into our preferred dorm: Engstrom Hall. I was able to move in two weeks early because of choir camp, and Allison was there early for soccer. Oh, the adventures that the two of us had. 🙂
And that was just the beginning. I was placed in an incredible “wing” of the dorm and love those ladies to this day! We learned so much from each other and we experienced so much together–namely September 11, 2001 and the changes that brought to our world. I never doubted that God wanted me to be there!
My four years at APU were truly some of the best years of my life. I was enriched and challenged in so many areas: faith, friendship, intellect, culture, travel, music, etc. I met some of the most amazing, loyal, brilliant people there and I am so thankful for their presence in my life.
Chapel was never a chore. What a privilege it was to worship three (or four, if I went on Wednesday night) times a week with thousands of fellow believers, led by incredible musicians whose hearts were focused on God…what a privilege to learn from some of the most incredible teachers in the country (Francis Chan, John Piper, etc.) in person, week after week. Our campus pastor for three of my years there was Chris Brown, a man who impacted my life more than I can say. It took us three years to go through the book of Mark on Wednesday nights, but I wouldn’t have changed that for anything. He made the Bible come alive like no other pastor I’ve heard before. Who could forget “Demon Dan?” I still have my Bible that is filled with notes in the margins from the wisdom (and humor) this man had.
I’m especially thankful for my mentor during those college years: Scott. I met Scott through my (much-coveted) job at the Marshburn Memorial Library. He and I formed an instant friendship that I still treasure today. He was one of the librarians that I worked for and he never tired of my questions (ranging from “where did the dinosaurs go?” to topics like Libertarianism). Scott is well-informed in politics and history so our discussions were never-ending. He always had wisdom to offer when I was dealing with struggles with other people, political topics, etc. and his unique sense of humor could always brighten my day. His family really welcomed me in and it has been so fun to watch his children grow up. So thankful for him and for the investment that he/they made in my life.
Jane is another “library person” for whom I am so thankful. She was like a “mom” to all of the student workers in the library and we all loved her! From advice to practical assistance, she was always there: for example, when I had my second-degree sunburn in 2004, she helped me put aloe vera on my back daily to ensure that I was comfortable while at work. 🙂 We’re still in contact today and it’s wonderful!
APU is truly a God-centered university with so many opportunities for their students. The professors know how to both challenge and encourage their students. Their sports program is one of the best in the world (Bryan Clay STILL works with the coaching staff for his Olympic training program!). Their music program is truly one of the best in the world and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from my choir director and voice teacher. Their missions program is DEFINITELY one of the best in the world and I am so thankful for the training that I received there.
Most importantly, Azusa Pacific University puts God First in everything and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn/live there. What a privilege.