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Exploring a Student’s Faith Journey at Pepperdine

Jacey Hoy and friends in Spain

Jacey Hoy ’s college experience began like those of her classmates—disconnected from campus and the college community due to a global pandemic. Alone and far away from her new school, Hoy couldn’t help but feel estranged from her faith. Read the Q and A below to learn how she found her way back and how Pepperdine has become her home away from home. 

Why did you choose to attend Pepperdine? 

Being from Oklahoma, I had never heard of Pepperdine until my older sister started applying to college. After applying, a 20-hour drive, and falling in love with the University, we helped move her in. Right away, even at the age of 16, I noticed something unique about the atmosphere at Pepperdine.

I had visited many Christian colleges, but something about the community at Pepperdine felt so pure, authentic, and welcoming. I fell in love with the campus and the people and decided to move out here too! My biggest desire while I was applying for colleges was to find a place that would grow my faith and my friendships simultaneously, and what I found at Pepperdine was far beyond anything I could have imagined.


What are some of your fondest memories from your time at Pepperdine?

I studied abroad in London for the full year during my sophomore year and that is where I made some of my most amazing memories!! I met my absolute best friend who is literally sunshine in human form. Every room she walks into, she brings Jesus’ light with her to make others feel known and loved, and somehow I get to be one of those people! 

We went on some amazing adventures together and while the countries we explored such as Greece, Italy, and France were incredible, the memories I cherish the most are those found in the smaller moments, like worship nights in our lounge in London or movie nights in our little suite on campus. When I walk in from a long day to my roomies dancing in the kitchen and yelling at me to join, I know how lucky I am to live with my best friends, and I cherish every moment I get to spend with them.


What advice would you give to a high school senior considering attending Pepperdine?

Pepperdine is genuinely a place where you will be known. You are not just a number; most of your professors will know you by name and so will your classmates. That is a unique experience that you don’t find at many places, so if you are looking for a place to be rooted, Pepperdine might be the perfect fit for you. I’d also recommend picking a school that feels like home when you arrive on campus. Visit the campus, meet people, and find the environment  in which you feel like you belong—even if it isn’t Pepperdine.


What advice would you give to a first year who just moved onto campus at Pepperdine?

The hardest part of the early stages of college is often getting out of your comfort zone, but doing so makes your experience one thousand times better. It allows you to meet people from all walks of life and become friends with students you wouldn’t know otherwise. I highly recommend joining a student-led ministry (even if you don’t have the same beliefs as other attendees . . . we want diversity, not just carbon copies of other people) or another club on campus. There is truly something for everyone; don’t let fear hold you back.


What do you enjoy about studying at a Christian university?

I love that I can freely express my faith and learn more from others. I have found many places where I am around like-minded individuals who pursue the Lord and encourage me to do the same, but I think it is equally important to be around those with different beliefs as well. 

I am really grateful that Pepperdine has given me a space to learn more about other faith traditions as well as my own. I love that some of my professors open up our class time in prayer; it reminds me of the importance of the education I am receiving and how it glorifies God. I think the atmosphere at Pepperdine is really unique because of our Christian mission.


How has your faith journey evolved since your first year and what role did Pepperdine play in it?

Pepperdine has been such an instrumental part of my spiritual growth, I don’t think words can do it justice. My first year was super tough because it was online due to COVID-19, so it was difficult to feel part of the Pepperdine community, especially being from out of state. That year, I felt estranged not only from my friends but also from my faith. I was living life unaware of my greater purpose and blind to the Lord’s constant pursuit of my heart. 

While in London for my sophomore year I began a spiritual transformation. God met me in my brokenness to remind me of the healing only he can provide. He blessed me with incredible, steadfast friends to encourage me in my own faith journey, and he showered me with his abundant love and mercy. 

Studying abroad at Pepperdine changed my life and radically changed the way I view God. It transformed my religion into a relationship, and I’ve never looked back. I am now in my senior year, and it is so beautiful to see the ways the Lord has changed me since my first year. I lead a high school girls group at my church in Thousand Oaks and help run a connection chapel for underclassmen at Pepperdine. I also work for the Hub for Spiritual Life and am able to attend several of the student-led ministries here. I am so grateful to be able to pour back into the same community that has given me so much, and I pray that others can feel even an ounce of the love I have felt from those at Pepperdine.