Viewpoint: What it’s like to be me

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    By VELINCIA VELJASEVIC

    Many students come to BYU for the Church doctrines that are instilled throughout the various student activities and classes, some come to find husbands and wives. Others come because of the institution itself and what it has to offer. I came for a different reason and have had experiences many students will never have.

    First, let me mention my background. I am half Yugoslavian and half black, a very interesting mix. What else differentiates me from the rest of the student body? I am a minority female, I am not here for athletics, I am non-Mormon, and I have a religion of my own.

    I came here because someone that I was dating asked me to, and we had been dating for three years at that point. My parents and I consider ourselves blessed to find such a wonderful university that does not carry with it the same worries that other universities often do and has high standards, rules and expectations that put it above all other schools. But my past experiences and had not prepared me for the culture that you can only find at BYU, or the extension of BYU we call Provo.

    I knew nothing of the Mormon religion, culture, beliefs or anything. Yet I still had to take all 14 hours of religion classes like the rest of you guys! Since I have been here, I have been asked several unusual questions about myself. The first question I usually get when people find out I am not LDS is, “Are you an athlete?” Then when I say no, the next question is, “Well, do you have a religion?” This stumped me because it implied that if I wasn’t Mormon that I couldn’t possibly have another religion, like being Catholic. Then, finally, “Why are you here?” Then comes the arduous invitation to FHE, Sunday service, and so forth.

    An experiment I did was to wear a crucifix around my neck, and when I did so, I got the strangest looks from people. Oddly enough, when I do not wear it I get offers for dates, phone numbers and all that exciting stuff. For me, wearing the crucifix is a symbol of my religion, which is non-denominational Christian, but it acts as a screening device, much like a wedding band.

    In fact, my freshman year, I lived in DT and the phone list came out the first week of school. For some reason, the list stated who was Mormon and who was not. A girl from the fifth floor came down to my room to meet me, the only other non-Mormon girl in the tower. Well, halfway into the semester she stopped talking to me and meeting me for lunch. The reason: she was about to be baptized later that semester.

    For the most part, I have had a wonderful experience at BYU and would not trade it for anything. The values the culture has, the doctrines and principles y’all believe in (yes, I am from Texas), are amazing. I think the hardest thing I have had to deal with was taking a D&C course for returned missionaries and not realizing it until the add/drop date passed!

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