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Class of 2025 brings energy

Arevalo and her older sister are both first-generation BJU students. Photo: Melia Covington

Another group of freshmen arrived at Bob Jones University this fall, bringing unique experiences and perspectives with them. This class is composed of 672 freshmen. Of those freshmen, 578 are new this semester; the other 94 are second semester freshmen who began their education at BJU last semester.

One of the new freshmen is Gabriela Arevalo, a premed major. She drove with her roommate and her roommate’s family for 20 hours to get to college. Arevalo heard of BJU at the private Christian school she attended.

“Most of my teachers were from Bob Jones,” Arevalo said. “My school recruits from Bob Jones.”

She said two of the reasons she likes BJU are the people that came out of it and how kind they are, as well as the structure and safety she feels on campus.

“The people who come out of Bob Jones are so nice, and they have such a strong relationship with Christ,” Arevalo said. “They actually got a good education and were able to get closer to God. It’s just nice knowing that I’m here. . . . You just feel safe to be here.”

Another new freshman is Shannon Novak, an early childhood education major from Kentucky. She commutes around six and a half hours to college.

Novak was a homeschooler. Both Arevalo and Novak are residence hall students, along with 80% of the freshmen. Novak said some of the reasons she chose BJU were its education program, the feel of the campus and that her older sister went to BJU.

“I liked the structure of life here, and I always felt very comfortable on campus and very safe,” Novak said.

“I came and visited, did College Up Close, and I had several other colleges I was considering, but I eventually decided that … I liked the education program here,” she said. “It was the best of all the schools that I saw, and I really liked it.”

Rebecca Weier, the Director of Student Engagement and Success, teaches Pathways to incoming freshmen. She said she enjoys being able to interact with them and help them during their first year here.

Weier said they are excited to be at BJU, especially given that some were not able to come earlier due to COVID-19 or other factors.

“They seem to be energized to be here,” Weier said. “A lot of them have been waiting for several years to be able to come. The international students couldn’t come last year because of COVID restrictions on travel. So it’s a really big deal for them to finally be able to be here. And so it’s exciting to be able to interact with them and help them while they’re here.”

Weier said her favorite part of interacting with freshmen is seeing their potential, even if they can’t see it yet.