Alumni, students and families at the new student send-off in San Juan Capistrano, one of 14 such events held this summer. (Photo courtesy of Biola Alumni Relations) 

Even before he arrived at Biola as an incoming freshman last year, J.J. Calas felt welcomed into the Biola community, thanks to a new student send-off in Chicago, near his hometown in Illinois. So this year, as a sophomore majoring in psychology, Calas decided to attend the Chicago send-off for a second time — this time to help new students and welcome them into a new environment.

“I think what I enjoyed most about this past event was the time we spent with our fun activity as well as the time we spent in prayer,” Calas said. “I think that moment of prayer was what the new students needed to hear as they began to transition into this new season of their lives. It was a beneficial prayer for me, too, as I was coming back into my routine of being at college after the summer.”

The Chicago send-off is one of 14 new student send-offs Biola hosted this past summer, which took place over a span of five weekends across eight states. The Alumni Relations team fanned out across the country to welcome Biola’s newest students and families into the community, with help from gracious hosts who opened up their homes — some of them first-time hosts and others who offer their homes year after year. Across the 14 events, about 440 students, parents, alumni and other family members attended.

Both incoming and current students and families, along with alumni, had the opportunity to meet, play games, eat yummy food and connect with each other about their Biola experiences. Incoming students were generally hesitant and tentative at the outset, but after the icebreaker games, they were at ease. By the end of the event, many were exchanging contact information. They loved to hear from current students about what they can expect once they step foot on campus. Incoming parents wanted to know everything about what their students can expect, as well as what they can expect as parents, and this is what they heard from current parents who helped them to prepare and ease their concerns. Alumni spoke about the post-Biola experience and how students can prepare and translate their Biola experience to the work world and mission field.

Is there a new student send-off happening in your area? Let’s welcome new students and families in every region! Would you like to host one in the summer of 2020? Until then, stay involved by connecting with your Alumni Regional Contact (ARC) by hosting or participating in an alumni meet-up. Do you have other ideas on connecting with your Biolan community? Please contact Don Bernstein at for questions and information, or to suggest a new idea!