The enormous cross that greets you as you arrive to campus is a pretty leading statement that this is a Christian university. However, I have had the privilege of meeting numerous people who don’t identify themselves with the Christian faith.
There is a very diverse spiritual culture here at Pepperdine that a lot of students might not be aware of yet.
I have found Pepperdine to be an extremely accepting place that welcomes individuals from all different faith backgrounds. This was something that encouraged me to apply here in the first place. However, most individuals here have grown up with a heavy Christian background. I, on the other hand, had a different kind of faith upbringing.
Coming from the predominantly Jewish area of Long Island, adapting to a world filled with faith and spirituality was something completely new to me, and I’ve been loving every second of it so far. I’ve learned a lot about other people’s beliefs and about the faiths that my family represents.
I was raised half-Catholic, half-Jewish. Many can debate what my religion should be; for example, because my mother is Catholic, that would mean I am Catholic as well. I wouldn’t be considered Jewish because my mother is not Jewish.
For my entire life, I have celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Passover and several other holidays from both faiths. These are some of the reasons why I personally identify with both the Jewish and Catholic religions. That can be considered pretty non-traditional, but then again, so is my family.
I haven’t exactly been secretive about my faith background, considering I wrote all about it in my application supplement when originally applying to Pepperdine. Hiding half of myself to get into my dream school wasn’t something I was willing to do, and so far it seems to have paid off, considering I’m here now. Students, faculty and staff have proven to me that I was right about how accepting of a community this university truly is.
Coming from a mixed-faith family wasn’t exactly a popular thing in Long Island either. Most people represent one religion. I’ve learned that it’s pretty rare — and special in my opinion — to come from a mixed-faith family, no matter what coast of the United States you live on.
Neither one of my parents are particularly observant of their faiths; therefore, they didn’t feel the need to impress either of them too much on my brother and me. They gave us the privilege to figure out our beliefs on our own.
Coming to Pepperdine, I knew I would be stepping way outside of the culturally diverse bubble in which I had been living.
Not only is it rare to come from as far away as New York, but to be half Jewish as well can be considered a double-whammy here at Pepperdine. This is also something that I understood when I decided to enroll.
It is with great pride that I say I represent a part of the diversity at this university, and I look forward to continue learning about the faiths of the world and about the predominantly Christian community here. And I sincerely hope you do too.
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