Fourth Year Reflection: Julia Hiser
1. In what ways have you been involved at the Center for Christian Study?
Second year I had the incredible privilege of being a resident of the Yellow House in the Elzinga Residential Scholars Program! Aside from that awesome year, I’ve frequently attended lectures, held ministry meetings for InterVarsity [in the Study Center’s meeting rooms], and caught up with friends over lunch while sitting on the porch .
2. How has the Center for Christian Study informed your time at the University (your classes, relationships, extracurricular activities)?
The Center for Christian Study has acted as a catalyst for cultivating new relationships, particularly early on in my undergraduate years. Whether it was a weeknight early in the semester or standing in line for Exams Snacks, there always seemed ample opportunity to make a new friend with whom I would otherwise never cross paths. Since then, the Study Center has been a place where I can go knowing there will be an old friend to catch up with around the kitchen island.
3. What specific events, programs, or lectures have impacted you, and how?
The Elzinga Residential Scholars Program had a phenomenal impact on my second year at the University. As my first home at college away from dorms, both the building and the community of the Yellow House provided crucial support during a season of establishing an identity in the UVA community, leading a first year small group with InterVarsity, and facing new academic challenges. Lectures held at the Study Center also provided a helpful avenue for older believers to share wisdom on specific topics regarding practical faith. I particularly remember a lecture on dating, marriage, and singleness significantly altering the way I approach and pray for romantic relationships and singleness.
4. How has the gospel changed you during college? How has the Center for Christian Study played a part in that?
A favorite musician of mine, Ryan O’Neal, sings a lyric that states, “grace requires nothing of me.” This is not to say that the Lord does not ask things of us when we first come face to face with the gospel, but that ultimate salvific force has no origin in us, only God. He makes all of the initiating steps in relationship with us. During college, the gospel has shown me that grace does not require me to first know my identity, achieve perfection, or even subscribe to the world’s concept of success before arriving at relationship with the Lord. I simply show up and he’s there; knock, and the door is opened! I was only able to learn this lesson through relationships formed because of the Study Center. The examination of God’s Word and the constant struggle of the Christian walk is best done with each other, and the Study Center enabled me to learn these lessons in community.
5. How would you describe “life at the Study Center”? What does that mean to you?
Life at the Study Center means a season in which you can ask questions, seek wisdom, give and receive love, and take risks in friendship. This manifests itself through Lane and Jay’s open doors and hearts, a long line down Chancellor Street for coveted Chick-fil-A nuggets, and FREE Grit coffee around the clock.
6. Your time as an undergraduate student at the University is coming to a close. What are your immediate or long-term vocational aspirations?
Long-term, I would like to work towards a PhD in biomedical engineering. I’m fascinated by biomedical research, and I love learning how the mechanisms behind life can be harnessed for innovations in medicine. Just ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you how much I love playing with cells and going into lab at odd hours of night. Immediately, that looks like taking a year to continue my current research, publish a paper, and apply to graduate school.
Music is also a huge part of my life and, in some way, I would love for songwriting and performing to always be an integral part of my day-to-day routine. I still don’t really have anything figured out, and God has a tendency of wrecking my seemingly well-laid plans for his glory and my good, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that interest plays out!
7. What role has the Study Center played in preparing you for the next stage(s) of your life?
Foundation. The Study Center has helped solidify a foundation on the study of Scripture, the commitment to community (even when it’s hard), and the love of neighbor. The habits that this organization has helped cultivate in my life will carry on into post-college, adult life, regardless of the trials and joys future seasons will bring.
Julia Hiser, ENGR '18