Photo by Caroline Conder
After undergoing brain surgery at 14 years old, senior Ashtyn Adams thought she wanted to go into medicine and become a doctor.
While studying abroad in London during Summer 2019, Adams spoke with Rick Marrs, a Religion professor, former provost and chief academic officer at Pepperdine. Marrs complimented her academic work, but his compliments weren’t directed toward her medical studies.
“He pulled me aside one day and told me that he thought that I really had a gift for religion,” Adams said.
After that moment, Adams realized she wanted to pursue religion more, which made her declare a minor in the field.
Adams grew up in a Southern Baptist Church called Clovis Hills in Fresno, California, which she said was very conservative and expected church members to follow a rigid set of beliefs. Adams found a completely opposite experience while learning about religion at Pepperdine.
“By studying religion, it was a space where you can ask all the hard, scary and fiery questions,” Adams said. “I just really learned how wrong I was about so many things. I loved what I was studying.”
Adams finished all of her Religion minor classes during her sophomore year.
“I was just like, distraught,” Adams said.
This was the moment Adams decided to change her major from Sports Medicine to Religion. Even though Adams was now pursuing something she was passionate about, she said she still had plans to go to school to become a physician assistant.
“I was just blind to what I really wanted to do,” Adams said. “I was just still holding on to that, the idea I had of myself and the expectations other people had of me.”
This year, Adams became a spiritual life advisor. During the SLA training retreat, speaker Janna Allen Hines talked about living into one’s calling and what that looks like, Adams said.
“I just realized how much of a hypocrite I was,” Adams said. “I mean, I was an SLA, I was someone that people were supposed to be turning to for guidance. And I was not listening to the call that I felt.”
Adams spoke to Hines at the end of the retreat. This was another moment that pushed her toward religion. During that conversation, Adams said she realized the hard work she was doing for her science classes didn’t rejuvenate her like the work she did for her religion classes. Adams said this clarified what she really enjoys doing.
“We were talking about how in my religion classes, even though I have to study for hours and hours, it doesn’t feel like work,” Adams said. “Then the speaker told me, ‘You know, it doesn’t have to be this hard. God speaks to us through the things that we enjoy and through our passions.’”
Contact Anezka Liskova: firstname.lastname@example.org