International Voices: Sid Varland ’25 Radiates Ambition, Optimism, and Love for Others

Few enter college with a firm grasp of their calling, but for Sid Varland ’25, being able to hone his skills as a athlete and a major made him certain that Azusa Pacific University was where he is meant to be. His ambition, optimism, and love for others radiates in every one of his projects and adventures.

Born in Kenya, Varland was adopted by Norwegian-American parents, and moved to Michigan at four-years-old. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, he would travel back and forth between the two countries. He lived down the edge of the Great Rift Valley, about an hour from city life in Kenya. Living in the Sub-Saharan region of East Africa, Varland cherishes the explorations he went on, including hopping trains, visiting waterfalls, hiking near volcanoes, roaming plains, and seeing Hell’s Gate National Park. “I went to an international school in Kenya, and through that I met people who thought differently than me, shared their ideas, and opened my mind about diversity,” he said. “What I love about Kenya is that the culture not only welcomes outsiders, but is genuinely excited to share what they love, like food and dances, with people.”

Varland’s passion for capturing moments on film started when he was six-years-old, receiving his first camera. Inspired by Steven Spielberg films, especially “Indiana Jones,” Varland enjoyed shooting his adventures while traveling. His passion for cinematography grew rapidly. By the time he entered APU in Fall 2021, he had already started two production companies of his own, called Scopeverse productions and 25Medium, gaining experience networking and fulfilling roles as a creative director, editor, producer, and videographer. Beyond the impressive resume and skills Varland acquired at a young age, his joyful demeanor, enthusiasm to create, and uplifting personality have led him to make many friends at APU.

In addition to his passion for cinema, Varland grew up playing sports. While he’s played basketball, soccer, rugby, tennis, and did gymnastics, his interest in track and field led him to join APU’s renowned team. “My goal is to be a light. While I am competitive, I aspire to be someone you can tell is having fun on the team, smiling, and having a good time,” he said.

Prior to coming to APU, Varland had already developed adaptability and a sense of curiosity when entering a new place. Reflecting on his time here, he recognized the community that supports and elevates one another as students navigate the transition into adulthood. “My professors especially have encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” he said. “I appreciate the stories they tell about their experience in the film industry, and the ways they build my confidence.” Varland also appreciates the student bonds he’s made over the years. Having met students across various majors, Varland enjoys how everyone humbly motivates each other.

“We’re all at a stage where we’re wondering if our goals will work out someday, and that makes our friendships even stronger.”

Varland seeks to fully implement trust in God on a daily basis, but acknowledges how difficult it can be. “Looking back at my 16-year-old self, I now see what God was doing, but I didn’t see it then,” he said, “so I do my best to trust that even when things feel unexplainable now, God is working and moving in ways I might not recognize.”

When asked what advice he would give his younger self, Varland said, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t care what others think.” He shared that while there were points he felt comfortable in his own skin, he wrestled with the awareness that some were critical of the passions he poured himself into.

“People who say things to tear you down most likely don’t have it all together, so it’s easier to navigate trying new things without caring what people think.”

Varland continues to step out of his comfort zone, as he’s learned that surrounding himself with different people and circumstances help him grow intellectually. His dedication to spreading joy, following his dreams, and expressing his love for family and culture make him an inspiration to all who meet him.