Deciding to leave for California was an easy decision, but embracing the change felt impossible. 

I realized I wanted to go to APU during a college visit in North Carolina. During this visit, the president of the university I was touring changed the trajectory of my life. He said, if one has a big dream, then they have to make a big leap of faith. 

I figured moving from my home state of Pennsylvania to California would be a fitting leap for the size of my goals. It seemed to be the most thrilling jump. Finding my roommate through ZeeMee, watching hours of old APU YouTube videos and seeing those glorious San Gabriel Mountains for the first time at the end of my senior year all felt like rewarding signs of faith to me. 

The problem was that coming to California was not the leap. Rather, it was the preparation for one. The preparation was easy. The leap actually required faith. From the moment I started my freshman year, I realized I had not reached the other side but was just about to finally step off the cliff.

I became very determined not to take a step, let alone a leap. I was too stubborn to even consider liking California. I might have chosen to move to this state, but I figured I was simply being obedient to God’s call. There were so many times where I would be in class and be Googling schools back on the east coast that I could transfer to.  

I wasn’t the only one responsible for crushing my California dream; I was informed by many that the mountains which I had once promised myself to always be in awe of, were actually just “piles of dirt.” Additionally, many — including myself — scoffed at my naivety of seeing California as some glamorous place.  

To add on to the pain of homesickness, I spent the whole first semester with red eyes — it turns out that most allergy eye drops are not meant to be used more than three days in a row. I consequently avoided eye contact and spent countless time and money trying to find a solution to what felt like a permanent problem.

The red eyes thankfully went away by second semester, and, even when they were bloodshot, that did not stop others from loving me here at APU. Reflecting back on my first semester, I see now that things were actually pretty special. For starters, I was falling in love with my screenwriting classes. Additionally, I was enjoying honors with Dr. Weeks and journalism with Dr. Leland. I found pieces of my California dream in the remarkable industry connections that all of my professors seemed to have. 

Socially and spiritually as well, everything was a sweet dream. I immediately found a very close group of girl friends at school, and I had little miraculous experiences at my second home church, Foothill Community. I had so much to be grateful for, but my mind would not allow me to let go of where I once was. 

I found solace in my cousin from Pennsylvania who was going through a similar challenge as she went through her first year of college at Hawaii Pacific University. We both never thought we’d miss our small hometown so much. However, while things for her were starting to look up, they still felt damp for me. 

My situation finally shifted after October 26, 2021. That night, I was writing a short screenplay, and, as I proofread it at 3 a.m., I realized the script was terribly unsalvageable. In the bathroom I cried — which is a rarity for me — questioning if I had a lick of talent. At this point I was accepting a worst case scenario of homelessness post-graduation. Stressed, I told God that I thought He would send me something to blow my mind here in California, but I expressed — probably ungratefully — that I was disappointed. I begged God for a miracle that night. I begged Him to send me something big. All I can say is that ever since I said that prayer, I have been passionately in love with APU and have never looked back to what could have been. 

In the first few weeks of this year, my sophomore year, it felt like I was living the life I had always envisioned. Best of all, APU felt more like a summer camp than it ever did before. I was truly thrilled to be at this university.

But yet again thoughts of transferring were arising. This time the temptation did not lie in the grass that seemed greener on the other side, but, rather, it felt like I did not have a choice. Due to some personal career plan shifts, it felt like I had to leave APU. Though it was unsettling to potentially face a new leap, I was happier than ever before because I had this pure belief that God would work everything out. 

To my surprise, though, when I was going through the transfer process, opportunities started to come my way. My second assignment for ZU Media was to cover the Presidential Inauguration. That day I felt so full of the Holy Spirit, and I felt called to journalism like never before. God almost seemed to ask me to stick around to see the revival that’s to come at APU. My unexpected interview with President Adam Morris and his wife, Faith Morris, after the inauguration ceremony, though a short conversation, was the start of me reconsidering leaving.

What really solidified my desire to stay at APU was the weekend I covered APU’s football alumni reunion. When I walked into the weekend, my only knowledge of football consisted of a crash course YouTube video and documentaries, articles and news clips of APU football. I felt like the last person who should have been covering this historic weekend, but I believed God had chosen me for this moment and this moment for me. 

That weekend will go down as one of my fondest memories. The football team welcomed me as family. The alumni’s wives nicknamed me “little Morgan,” one family offered me a place to stay if I ever was in Oregon, and the conversations I had with all of the athletes were incredibly spiritually meaningful and humor-filled. The last event of the weekend was a Sunday morning chapel service by the cross dedicated to Jim Milhon on Franson field. It was a breathtaking morning, one that showed a glimpse of heaven. It was the perfect image of God’s faithfulness. 

Now, I am writing this while listening to the song former APU football coach Coach Terry Franson played at the event called “When God Ran by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Listening to this and sitting in my 4XL APU Football Alumni Shirt, I am reminded how loved I am by God and by this school. 

When I envisioned writing this article, I thought I would only write about all of the wonderful ways in which God answered my act of obedience to his call. But as I write this now, the present is not quite as easy. Like many, I am drowning in deadlines and the comforting lessons I learned yesterday have been replaced by new questions to be answered tomorrow. I have always been a hopeful person, and I know blessings will come. I am sure of it. However, I have realized that this leap would not be one that required faith if my circumstances all pointed towards a perfect future.

To borrow from the football reunion Sunday morning sermon delivered by APU football alum Steve Conner, we should all be like Peter and jump out on those waters to see Jesus. And just when the storms come and revival feels impossible, it is essential to keep our eyes upon Jesus. For keeping Christ as our foundation and as our destination is the only way a leap of faith can end on the other side of God’s appointed lands.