by Natalie Romero

“It’s been an interesting few weeks,” Alex Ogletree muses as he looks into the camera. The setting: his backyard. The message: an encouragement to fellow students as part of a video for La Sierra’s newest online movement: #lasierratogether.

Like schools across the nation, La Sierra University has been faced with an interesting dilemma in the wake of COVID-19 and various school closure orders. How do we keep our student body engaged when they are miles apart? How do we create a sense of community when our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are individually separated? How do we keep our campus family members from feeling alone?

With no set end date to California’s “Shelter in Place” order, Tara Hollis, director of the Office of Student Involvement decided to do something about it. 

“It became clear that we were going to need a way to keep our campus, and specifically our students, connected,” says Hollis. “We had so many departments and groups who were looking for ways to do this work and I thought—how cool would it be to do this all under one movement!”

After coordinating the efforts of various Student Life offices and departments across campus—“not only so that we wouldn’t be planning on top of each other, but also to make it clear that we as La Sierra are in this together,” Hollis clarifies—#lasierratogether was launched on April 6. Housed on the webpage, the core content is geared toward current students. With fun online events to attend and social media games to participate in, as well as spiritual connections and devotionals, students have various ways to hang out virtually. 

The big takeaway Hollis is hoping students, and other participants will get from the experience, is an overall feeling of connection. “Even though students are taking classes from home,” she says, “they are still a part of a network of people who are cheering them on.”

But #lasierratogether is about more than just passing time in between online classes. Through series like “Humans of La Sierra,” SALSU, the La Sierra student association, hopes to promote honest conversation and alleviate the loneliness that many may be experiencing away from their campus family. Posts shared by students, faculty, and staff are a window into their current lives away from La Sierra. They invite the community into their home offices and into their temporary classrooms with a view of the front yard. (Best of all, there’s the chance to meet the star of every Zoom meeting: the family pet.) 

On a even larger scale, #lasierratogether also provides information and activities that can be enjoyed by groups such as La Sierra’s vast alumni population, incoming students, and the surrounding community. Moving forward, #lasierratogether will help host virtual alumni engagement, create more videos for La Sierra’s diverse community, and continue to share stories from amazing students who are working to overcome every roadblock.

“There are people on the other side of that screen who care about you,” expresses Adiva Joseph to her peers in the launch video. And with each passing day (and each inventive Tik Tok video) our community is proving that La Sierra is more than just a place; it’s a family. “After all, we didn’t get to send them off properly or give them great big hugs as they headed out, and when they did leave we had no idea how very long we would be apart,” Hollis emphasizes. “So let’s do what we can to love them through this important moment the best way that we can—virtually.

Many of La Sierra’s students are struggling financially during this time. In the spirit of #lasierratogether, will you give a gift that can change a life? Click the link below to make a donation to help those who have been most affected by COVID-19 stay enrolled in their classes and cover basic needs.

Give Now to Help a Student in Need

Want to check out the movement in action? Visit, or search for the #lasierratogether hashtag on Instagram.