Susan Lim is an assistant professor in the Department of History & Political Science at Biola University. Here is her story of discovering and pursuing her passion.
Like many college students, I started my undergraduate career without a clear sense of direction. I was interested in many subjects, but none beckoned my attention exclusively. When the time came to declare my major, I eventually deferred to my parents who really wanted me to become a medical doctor. I dutifully majored in molecular and cell biology, took my required pre-med courses and trudged through all the required labs.
One day in lab, however, with goggles on and Bunsen burner in tow, I paid little attention to the solutions in front of me. Rather, I kept thinking about the riveting lecture on the Civil War delivered earlier that morning by my history professor. This history course was intended to merely fulfill a general education requirement, but it occupied so much of my mind.
After this history course ended, I found reasons to take two more the following semester. I really didn’t have room in my schedule for two history courses on top of organic chemistry and physics, but I couldn’t help myself. That semester changed the course of my academic path.
Each history lecture and discussion allowed me to see the present in a clearer light. I would often think or mumble to myself, “Oh, that’s why our political parties are so divided,” or “I don’t agree with ________, but I can see why some people would support that given their history.” I felt like I had been given a special pair of glasses that allowed me to see people and communities with more context and compassion.
I finally mustered up enough courage to tell my parents that I would no longer be a doctor, not knowing at that time that I would still be a doctor, just not the medical kind. I carefully explained to them that I loved history and that I felt compelled to study this field. They asked me, “What are you going to do with a history degree?” And I honestly replied, “I don’t know.” I didn’t have a clue what I would do with this degree, but I was deeply convicted that God knew and that he would guide my steps one at a time.
After finishing my undergraduate studies, I decided to step out in faith and apply to graduate school. I was unsure whether God wanted me to attend graduate school or not, so I had a Gideon’s fleece moment. I only applied to one doctoral program at UCLA, and asked the Lord to close this door if it wasn’t his best for me. It is a very competitive program, so the chances of getting rejected were good!
God, in his grace, opened this door for me, and graduate school and the many steps thereafter have led to my current position at Biola. And, as they say, the rest is history!
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