Sage Taber’s (22) heart of faith, empathy, and appreciation of people around the globe shines through every project she creates. Coming from a family committed to international Christian ministry, Taber endeavors to highlight multi-cultured people from all walks of life — especially immigrants and difference-makers — through video, photography, and art. 

“[PLNU] was a safe space for me to explore how I wanted to incorporate my faith and values with my professional and academic life,” Taber said.

Headshot of Taber, with text stating, “I’ve always felt this pull to connect my academic and professional goals with grassroots community engagement."

Taber grew up in southern CA, with two parents involved in full-time international ministry. Her older sister attended PLNU before her, and although Taber initially wasn’t sure she wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps, she quickly realized that she’d fit right in at PLNU during preview day.

“I fell in love with the radiant energy of everyone on campus,” she said. “I committed on the spot and signed the paper [to say] yes.”

Taber graduated from PLNU in 2022, earning her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a concentration in the Middle East. In Fall 2023, she began a graduate program at New York University, working towards a master’s degree in Near-Eastern Studies with a full-ride scholarship.

A Global Perspective

Taber believes her interest in international relations came from her parents. 

“My mother is half Persian,” Taber said. “Her family moved back and forth between Iran and the States, and when the Iranian revolution happened, they came fleeing back to the States and started over with absolutely nothing.”

Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.

She explained this is a common story for many immigrants — to flee from unlivable conditions and start over with nothing, in hope of a brighter future.

Her parents met doing international ministry in Turkey. Even though Taber is only one-quarter Persian, she explained that much of her Persian family now lives in the United States, and she grew up very close to all of them.

“There’s this whole international angle in my family before me,” Taber said. “I grew up eating rice, hearing Farsi [the Persian language], and listening to Persian music.”

Taber’s parents moved back to the U.S. before she was born, but have continued their calling of international ministry. When Taber was a teenager, her brother moved to Beirut, Lebanon, to work at a faith-based nonprofit at the peak of the refugee crisis. He was working in videography to highlight the unimaginable challenges they were facing.

“I’ll never forget, I had my senior art portfolio show, and one of my Arab classmates came up to me crying when she saw my work,” Taber said. “She [thanked] me for telling these stories of her home that she hadn’t seen represented.”

“The stories and the interviews he brought home really shook me up and blew my 14-year-old, Orange County brain,” Taber said. “I was so moved—I still have journal entries asking God, ‘why do I have the life I have while these people are facing war, poverty, and persecution?’”

During her last year of high school, Taber created a series of paintings highlighting female activists in the middle east.

“I’ll never forget, I had my senior art portfolio show, and one of my Arab classmates came up to me crying when she saw my work,” Taber said. “She [thanked] me for telling these stories of her home that she hadn’t seen represented.”

This moment helped Taber shift gears toward international affairs. She chose to attend PLNU majoring in international affairs with a concentration on the middle east.

A Safe Place for Learning

During her first year, Taber participated in ALIMA children and youth ministries at PLNU. ALIMA partners with the East African Cultural Center to offer tutoring and a safe after-school space for K–12 students who are immigrants from Africa. She was also involved in Team Barnabas, a club that promotes inclusion and belonging for multicultural students, and Unite, the international student club at PLNU.

“I’ve always felt this pull to connect my academic and professional goals with grassroots community engagement,” Taber said. “Because who am I to be writing essays about refugee integration systems, stateless persons, and international law without engaging with those communities in my own area?”

Taber loved the International Studies program at PLNU, and the way they valued both faithful dialogue and practical learning.

Taber riding a bike.
Taber posing in front of a teal-colored door.

“It was always a safe space to ask questions related to faith, ethics, or spirituality,” she said. “I thought that was really an advantage to our program — it was a really healthy environment, and a safe space for me to explore how I wanted to incorporate my faith and values with my professional and academic life.”

The conversations in the classroom inspired conversations outside as well. Taber and her roommate were inspired to create “The Freedom to Succeed,” a short documentary video about some of the challenges Iranian refugees face. It led to opportunities with videography and multi-media forms of storytelling.

A New Perspective on the Mediterranean

Taber’s sister, Elena, has created a very successful career in creating online lifestyle and travel content for YouTube and social media. In 2022, the sisters took a summer trip that looped around the mediterranean. They visited Spain, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco. Taber helped plan the travel logistics for the whole trip, and dove into history when writing the script and adding the context for those videos. She also helped record and edit the videos, which together have gathered well over one million views.

“I think this ability to connect has grown exponentially because of social media and the internet.”

While on this unforgettable trip, they set out to create a travel video series that would call attention to countries and areas tourists often don’t travel to. They also set out to bring their unique perspective to travel coverage of these places, since female travel vloggers rarely visit countries like Turkey and Morocco.

“There’s such a gap, because young women feel like they can go to Cancun, but they can’t go to these amazing places [in] North African and Middle Eastern countries,” Taber said.

The videos helped highlight at least one outstanding young woman in each country they visited — a rarity in travel videos in those countries. Taber was determined to showcase women who were breaking down social barriers in their local communities, and arranged in-person interviews via instagram.

A couple walking past street vendors.
Women riding a moped.

“I think women throughout all of history around the world have had a unique capacity for connection across cultures and borders,” she said. “I think this ability to connect has grown exponentially because of social media and the internet.”

One video highlighted Denia, a young skater involved in the youth skateboarding scene in Athens, Greece. Through the video, Denia explained how she helped trailblaze the inclusion of women, immigrants and minorities in the popular skateboarding culture there. Taber found a lot of common ground with the young women that they encountered on their trip.

 “We wanted to make videos by, for, and about women,” Taber said. “We came to listen to them and amplify their stories and their perspectives, and that created a world of openness and communication.”

A Future of Freedom

Taber remains thankful for PLNU’s part in her journey, and especially the financial aid she received during her time at PLNU, including the Colt Scholarship in 2020 and the Kirkemo Public Service Scholarship in 2021. She felt that the opportunities she received at PLNU helped her be able to focus on her future.

“Point Loma gave me the freedom to just graduate and think about where in the world I wanted to go next,” Taber said. “That ended up being a launch pad to soar and try anything.”

Taber smiling next to some trees.
Toby Franklin is the copy editor for PLNU’s Marketing team. He is a reader and writer of speculative fiction and comic books.