It was the first day of kindergarten. School had just let out, and Laurel Dominisey, a Catholic from upstate New York, and Natalie Almeter, a Seventh-day Adventist from the same area, were both on the same bus.
"Do you want to be my friend?" Natalie asked.
Laurel did became good friends with both Natalie and her sister, Mindy. She spent quite a bit of time in their home and even became close with the girls' parents. The Almeter family offered support and advice when Laurel's parents divorced and when she had boy problems. Laurel spent many weekends in the Almeters' home and church.
During her senior year of high school, Laurel applied for college. She had narrowed her choices down to one school -- Niagara University, a Catholic institution near Niagara Falls, New York. She was so sure of her initial decision that she sent in the registration fee. In return, she received a large scholarship for the fall semester in 2005.
Despite Laurel's firm decision, Natalie and Mindy convinced her to fill out an application for Southern as well. After much prayer, Laurel decided that if God wanted her there, he'd make Southern cheaper than Niagra.
"In my own mind,," she says, "I knew it was impossible."
Two days before her high school graduation, Laurel received her financial aid letter. After doing the math, she found out that Southern was going to be $5,000 cheaper than Niagara.
"I made my promise to God, so I kept it."
Laurel says that when she got to Southern, she felt at home. Southern offered her a different sensation, one she felt the second she walked on campus.
"Southern provides an atmosphere that encourages a spiritual life," she says. "That encouragement is something I would not have gotten at any [other] university. Southern is beautiful inside and out."
Laurel is now studying non-profit administration and development.
"I chose this major because I want to make a difference," Laurel says.
When asked what denomination she is now, Laurel says with a smile on her face that she is Adventist.
"I haven't been baptized into the church yet," she adds "but my heart holds the truth. I thank God everyday for all He has done for me."
"I knew God had a bigger plan for Laurel," says Natalie. "And I'm just glad I had a chance to be a part of it!"