Words that new students use to describe the way Westmont makes them feel include, “home,” “exuberant,” and “unexpected.” For one female first year, she had never actually heard of Westmont, and only knew of it because she drove past it when seeing her sister at UCSB. “I actually applied to Westmont the night before they closed applications. I was accepted a week later,” she mused, looking around at the foliage near the DC. “At first I was nervous about coming here, because I was worried it would be a really unaccepting environment. However, the people here have been very respectful. I keep accidentally calling it home.”
And for many students, this is the case: instances of attending Westmont when they never dreamed they would end up here. For Rachel Herriges, a first year, this was especially true.
“I was so confused about what I wanted to do. I applied to eight schools, but none of them were where I really wanted to go. This changed when I stayed overnight at Westmont in November, and I got the chance to sing with Vespers,” Rachel says, before pausing and smiling as she reminisces about the memory. “I took a great leap of faith coming here; I’m 15 hours away from home, in a completely different state. In the end, though, I really think it’s worth it, and it’s better than I expected it would be.”
However, for others, faith almost kept them from attending Westmont. One male first year noted, “Westmont’s Christ-centered community kept me from applying because I share very different views on religion than others here. But everyone’s been really respectful and kind to me. Westmont isn’t what I expected it to be at all, but in every right way.”
According to many, a narrative of acceptance, community, and respect come strongly into play throughout students’ decisions to attend Westmont. Another female first year tells of her grandfather, and his dying wish for her to at least consider Westmont in her application process.
“Honestly, I didn’t really want to apply, or even look at the campus. But every time I thought of Westmont, I thought of him, and how he wanted the best life for me. Going to college is a really big deal in my family, since I’m a first-generation college student. Nobody in my family has had the opportunities I’ve had, and I was worried that Westmont would be largely unsupportive of interracial students. I’ve been very glad to be here, because it’s such a largely accepting community. I feel safe and accepted and comfortable in my own skin.”
Each person has their own reasoning for choosing Westmont. For some, faith was a major factor; for others, their decision to attend Westmont fell together unexpectedly. Whether it was by choice, accident, or complete surprise, Westmont is full of students with different stories to tell.