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Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2015) – Hundreds of members of the Class of 2019 arrived at California Baptist University the first weekend in September to begin their college experience. 

Who are these freshmen? A majority of them were born in 1997 or 1998; they are part of the millennial generation. For many, social interactions include emoticons. Technology is second nature and if you want to annoy them just try "labeling them" with a title.   

Millennials also have lived through one of the worst recessions in modern history, post 9/11 realities and the rise of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

Yet in addition to the social, political and economic conditions that will shape their coming-of-age story, for many of these CBU freshmen faith will also play a significant role.

For many, faith was a key reason they choose CBU. For some it meant leaving their families and communities behind to begin this new journey.       

Michaela Vansant, a visual arts major, made a road trip with her family from Colorado to move into student housing during Welcome Weekend.

"I'm open to seeing what God is going to do in my life during my time at CBU," said Vansant. "What I do know is that CBU is a "Great Commission" school and I wanted to be here."

Kevin Chen, an aviation science major, made the journey to California Baptist University from Taiwan.  Chen said the decision to leave his family and study abroad was made easier by the fact that he is coming to CBU.

"Faith is very important to me. CBU has a safe environment where I can talk about my faith, especially to those who haven't heard about Christ yet," Chen said.

Janelle Lopez, a special education major, came to CBU from Florida to be a part of the cheer team.

She said it was a scary decision to move to California not knowing anyone. However, knowing others on campus share her faith will help in her transition.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people," Lopez said. "I feel like I will fit in here just fine. I love being around others who believe the same thing as I do."

John Montgomery, dean of spiritual life, said CBU is about "investing in students lives to develop followers of Jesus."

"No matter where a student is in their spiritual journey, we want to help them take the next step as they grow in their relationship with God," Montgomery said.