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Room Checks?

by Noelle Montgomery

My parents wanted me to go to La Sierra University. What? Go to a univeristy that had more rules than my high school? No way! But thatís where I ended up going, and now Iím glad.

 “They have room checks every night? At 10:30 p.m.?” I was outraged. It was the end of December during my senior year in high school, and I had finished applying to colleges I wanted to go to. I’d even received two acceptance letters. I had my heart set on going to San Francisco State University the next fall.

But my parents had other ideas. They wanted me to go to some little-known Seventh-day Adventist college called La Sierra University. I scrolled through the Residential Life Policies page on the La Sierra University Web site. My eyes met rule after rule.
What are my parents thinking? I’m almost 18, and I’m going to college. La Sierra University has more rules than my high school! And what will the people on campus think of me when I arrive? (I’m almost six feet tall, and I’m a fan of bright-red lipstick, cut-up band shirts, and vintage hairstyles.)
Later that night my family was having dinner. “So, Noelle,” my mother started, “did you check out La Sierra?”
“Yep,” I said, glancing up from my dinner plate.
“What did you think of it?” she asked in her mother-knows-best tone of voice. My mom probably already knew what I thought of La Sierra, and I figured she was getting ready to tell me why it was the best school for me to attend.
“Oh, it’s great,” I said, “if you’re planning on sending me to a day care.”
She actually laughed a little bit.
“Noelle, it’s a small school where the professors actually care if you pass or fail,” Mom said. “I wish I could have gone to a school like that. Do you know what the speaker told the audience during the freshman orientation at the University of California, Santa Barbara?”
Of course I knew. She’d only mentioned it a thousand times during the past three months. I sighed. “Yes, I know what he said.”
Mom retold me anyway. “The first thing he said when he stepped up to the microphone was: ‘Look around. Some of you won’t be here by the end of the school year.’”
I didn’t say anything. I knew that what the speaker had said was true, even if it wasn’t that encouraging.
Mom waited for my response.
“That’s weird,” I finally said.
I spent the rest of dinner listening to my parents talk about the colleges they attended. My mom had gone to the University of California, Santa Barbara for her first two years, then she had transferred to the University of California, San Diego for her last two years. My dad had gone to San Diego State University. They both talked about how many people were at their universities and how big the campuses were.
My parents both agreed that La Sierra University would be a better school for me, and that the small campus would offer a more personal atmosphere. The fact that we had a family friend who sent their daughter to La Sierra also helped. Our discussion ended with  my parents urging me to apply before the February 1 deadline.
I waited and gave my parents excuses every time they mentioned my applying to La Sierra University. If I missed the deadline to apply, there was no way I could go to La Sierra in the fall. So I developed mysterious illnesses at the mere mention of my application to La Sierra, illnesses that hadn’t existed five seconds earlier. My excuses worked until the night of January 29. Mom had had enough.
“Noelle,” she said, standing with her arms crossed in front of her chest, “you’re going to apply to La Sierra. Now.”
I sighed. “Actually, I’m feeling kind of 
“No,” Mom cut me off, “I’m not leaving until you apply.” Then she parked herself on my bed and waited.
I had no choice but to go to the La Sierra University Web site and apply.
Total surprise
My first quarter at La Sierra University completely surprised me. The campus had a very peaceful, serene atmosphere. And, I found that most people I encountered on campus were kind and always willing to help me. My classes were small, and professors took the time to learn each student’s name.
Before I started attending La Sierra, I told myself I’d transfer to a state school after my sophomore year. Now, after completing the first quarter of my sophomore year, I have no plans to leave.
One speech that’s stood out for me during the time I’ve spent at La Sierra University is one a guest speaker gave at a Monday night worship during my freshman year. The last thing the speaker said before ending his message was, “God accepts everyone. Why can’t we?”
The reason those two sentences stood out to me was, they summed up the reason I didn’t want to come to La Sierra. I was afraid of coming to a Seventh-day Adventist college and not being accepted for who I am. But now that I’m here, I find it quite the opposite. Psalm 133:1, 2 perfectly sums  up my experience: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes” (NIV).*
The kindness and care that I received at 
La Sierra University overwhelmed me.
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Noelle Montgomery writes from Riverside, California.

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