An interview With Resident non-Adventist Danielle Setniker About Her Experience at Walla Walla University
Danielle Setniker, a senior English major who identifies as non-denominational Protestant, chose to attend Walla Walla University because of the personal attention that the professors gave her during her visit.
Coming in as a freshman was a bit of a culture shock for Setniker. She says, “I knew very little about Adventists before I came here. I think literally the first time I met someone who was Adventist was when I came here to visit. I had no clue what I was getting myself into.” She realized quickly that she was in an environment that she didn’t fully understand, and she didn’t want to rub anyone the wrong way or offend them. “I remember the first time I told my roommate I didn’t know what Fry Chik was, she couldn’t believe it,” she says. 
Setniker says that the main things she disagrees with theologically are subjects she doesn’t know much about to begin with. This means that fitting into church here hasn’t been a major struggle. “I’ve been to U Church several times, and vespers–I love vespers–and I’ve never heard someone preach a sermon on something that I didn’t agree with,” she says. “There are beliefs about a few lifestyle things that I’m just like, ‘That doesn’t come from the Bible,’ but Ellen White’s a whole different can of worms.” 
Spending more time immersed in the Adventist culture has helped Setniker to feel more comfortable in expressing her own beliefs among people who may disagree. “Once I realized that nobody was going to be that upset with me for not knowing things, it wasn’t something I stressed about,” she says. “I think one of the lessons that I’m most happy to have learned here is that I can have friends who I disagree with about things that are very important to us.” It has helped Setniker in strengthening her own faith to be challenged about it. 
Setniker found things that she appreciated about Adventism and chose to incorporate them into her own life. She says she’s been here long enough to become accustomed to living in an Adventist environment. “Sabbath culture is just wonderful, seeing people really, actually, genuinely take the time to rest, which I think in the church that I was raised in, that’s not what you did on Sundays. You went to church, then you went home, and you did things that weren’t very restful, or you did homework. It’s been nice to see that as a good example and something that I can learn from for my own faith.” 
Stepping into a new culture can be a terrifying experience, even when it isn’t wildly different from your own. What helped Setniker the most was people’s kindness and inclusion, instead of being told that she was wrong. “Clearly a lot of people knew each other, and I didn’t have that, but I had a good roommate, and I knew a lot of people through her pretty quickly… I think even though I had no clue, I was fortunate enough to be in contact with people who were very kind about it, but who also just knew a lot and were open to sharing about it,” she says.  The welcoming nature of her fellow students is what helped Setniker to feel comfortable enough to grow in her own faith while considering aspects of others.’
1. Teams interview with Danielle Setniker, 1/29/21.