Jillian Bradford isn’t your normal Torrey student. She says that theologically, ideologically and fashionably she doesn’t quite fit.

Her freshman year felt like stepping into a different culture. She owned a record player and went to shows. People in her group told her she was crazy!

Lifestyle aside, Jillian knew she had a different perspective than most. However, she wasn’t exactly sure how to explain or defend her thoughts. She would describe herself as much more liberal than conservative. Comparatively, the students in her cohort held much more conservative beliefs than her both theologically and politically.

For instance, Jillian is a feminist. However, defenses often go up when people hear that term. She had to learn to navigate conversations with others when talking about western canonical authors or passages in Scripture.

But as she was seeking to give concrete answers for her ideological differences, Jillian began realizing Torrey was less about the answers and more about the process.

Though frustrating at first, postponing conclusions on complex topics ended up being beneficial. Valuing the process of critical thinking rather than arriving at the conclusion helped her find common ground with her peers.

Jillian says her experience at Biola has redefined how she thinks about intelligence. Being an ideological minority required her to think critically all the time. She’s comfortable admitting that she doesn’t have all the answers. To her, that’s a mark of true intelligence.

But she didn’t come to this point of ideological contentment on her own. It took connections with like-minded friends, experience as a Resident Advisor (R.A.) and some great professors to help her gain confidence.

For instance, her R.A. position helped her reconcile representing Biola yet not agreeing with all of Biola’s values. She had to temporarily accept many of Biola’s rules though she felt she would change them if she were in charge. Though there’s no single way to hold such tension, she had to be okay without closure.

Though Torrey brought tension to Jillian’s life, Biola also provided resources to deal with her inner-conflict. As an ideological minority, there were still resources and space at Biola to help her thrive.

Looking to broaden your understanding of yourself and others? Biola provides many opportunities to engage people with different backgrounds and perspectives.