Presence is a first-time freshman from Sierra Vista, AZ. She sat down to share with us how she went about choosing Providence and her time here so far.
When you were making a decision about college, what was the overriding factor or what was central to your college decision?
My college decision was centered on the question, “Where do I think is going to aid me most in my sanctification?” I sought a school that would teach me more about the world, God, the Bible, and myself. It was important for me to find a school that taught from a Reformed Christian worldview. I didn’t shape my college search to my desired future occupation or to the best financial aid package one could offer(even though Providence offered a pretty great one), but to where I felt God was calling me. After much prayer and recognizing how perfectly everything fit together, I knew that Providence was the college for me.
Why do you think being at Providence is essential to your future, to your growth as a Christian and as a “creative, critical citizen,” in the words of Dr. McIlhenny?
I am not going to Providence specifically so that I may get a degree for a better job. Once I graduate, Lord willing, I plan on fulfilling what my desire has always been; to be a stay at home wife and mother. When I tell people that, they usually give me funny looks and ask, “So then why are you spending all this money if you’re not going to use your degree?” My answer is so that I can grow into a creative and critical citizen. I have the desire to learn more about God and humanity. Being at Providence not only equips me with book knowledge, but with reasoning skills, direct experience through the Avodahs, over all spiritual growth, and how I can apply those to better represent Christ to the fallen world. Providence equips students with qualities and characteristics that go beyond a paper saying one graduated. To me, that is something that is priceless.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to attend college in the next year?
My advice would be to stop looking for the “perfect college” because there is no such thing. After praying and praying and asking others to pray for you, consider what is most important to you. Make the decision for yourself. Don’t decide on a college just because your best friend is going there. I feel that one of the best ways to start narrowing down is by deciding secular or Christian. Is it important to you that you are taught from a Christian worldview? After that, ask yourself what gifts has God given you and in what areas has he given you desires? After praying some more, make a list of pros and cons of the colleges at which you are looking. Which college will help contribute to your desire to grow and bring glory to God? Then once you chose a college, stick with it and pray some more.
What’s been your favorite class?
My favorite class this semester is English 101. (You didn’t ask why, but I’ll answer that anyway) It has given me a love for the English language. The books we are reading through are chock-full of great writing advice that has lent to my writing skills drastically increasing over the past four months. I have not only learned to write better papers, but to write about how the topic correlates to my Reformed worldview and why the reader should care. My grammar and sentence structure has also improved and at this point, I enjoy writing. English 101 is the sort of class that helps all the others in this Liberal Arts education since those classes require writing as well. I am thankful for that because my friend at a secular university has only written two papers while I have written eleven papers and speeches this semester at Providence. And as I am learning in Stephen King’s book On Writing, the only way to improve one’s writing skills is by writing more.
Why do you like living near Los Angeles? What is your favorite place in the city?
I come from a small town in Arizona where the majority of the population is Caucasian. I love living near Los Angeles because of the diversity in culture and ethnicity. I feel that living in Los Angeles aids me in experiencing, understanding, and appreciating other cultures. In addition, there is so much to experience. There are many museums, concerts, beaches, and theme parks within reach. One particular weekend I was able to go to Knott’s Berry Farm with some friends because we found coupons. Also, within three months of living at Providence, I saw Queen Latifah in Santa Monica and Roshon Fegan(Ty Blue from Disney Channel’s Shake It Up) at an ice rink. Those sorts of things make me love living near Los Angeles. (I actually haven’t been too many places in the city to have a favorite yet.)
What has been the high and low of your time at Providence thus far?
I’ll start with the lows. I came into Providence expecting that the whole student body would have a huge desire of set-apartness as God’s people. My expectations were far too high. I did not keep in mind that though we are redeemed as God’s people, we still sin. There is no such thing as the perfect college because the people in it are never going to be perfect. We are all growing in Christ’s likeness through sanctification which means we are not there yet. We are definitely not perfect. That is something that everyone needs to be reminded of when they choose their college.
I remember when I first visited Providence, I was slightly annoyed at the fact that the campus as a whole is shared with various secular elementary, middle, and high schools. To me that meant that I would never fully be able to know everyone on campus like I had hoped. As the semester went on however, I began to see that it is a blessing. It has become a sort of ministry for us. While we eat in the cafeteria, we have been able to start mingling with some of the high school students and actually brought a junior to Christ. He has been going to church with us since. It is neat to notice that on our campus, we have many younger people to represent Christ to.
Another high would be the fact that in these past four months, I feel that I have done some of the most maturing in my spiritual life. I have been challenged, tested, and tempted. Things have been high and low like crazy. But through it all, I remember what was talked about in chapel a few weeks ago. The verse in Psalms that says “The LORD is my portion” has been my reminder that no matter what, He is where I find contentment. No matter what grade I get on this next quiz, Jesus is still king over all of the universe.
Why does the community of people with whom you are educated matter?
The difference is a letter grade. I can tell you that from my experience so far. Being in a community lends to study groups and people who were actually paying attention to the assignment requirements when you weren’t. When you live near most of the people in your class, it makes studying and reviewing as a group so much easier. Living in the academic community is what I attribute most of my higher grades to.
You have a unique name that I’m sure people have asked you about. Would you fill us in on how that name was chosen for you?
The nurse told my parents after they had given birth to me that they needed to put a name on the birth certificate in order to take me home. My mom looked at my biological father and told him to start naming some names and supposedly he was giving out some wacky names (dirt, moon, grass, etc.. hippie stuff) and so when he said “Presence,” my mom decided that she actually liked it. Then they went onto my middle name and chose Dream. I wish I could say that it was something meaningful but it really wasn’t. Although, throughout my life, my name has stood as a reminder for me to live my life “Coram Deo” which means “Before the face of God.” “Presence” reminds me that God is always there. He is there when I do something I shouldn’t be doing, he is there when I am discouraged, etc. There you have it!