Volume 10 Issue 1 Spring 2018
HOME Home isn’t always sweet, and the barriers to attaining—and maintaining—housing are abundant. Here’s what a group of Pepperdine people are doing about it
Henry Price, professor of music, who will retire this spring after serving Pepperdine for 25 years, coaches senior Natalie Leonard at Smothers Theatre.
ŕ˝ ŕ˝ Watch Pepperdine Magazineâ€™s tribute to the incomparable operatic tenor: magazine.pepperdine.edu/henry-price
F E AT U R E S
14 House//Home Home isn’t always sweet, and the barriers to attaining—and maintaining— housing are abundant. Here’s what a group of Pepperdine people are doing about it
20 Compelled to Move Amid a surge of social and political movements that have captured the nation’s interest, Pepperdine students embarked on an annual experience to learn about the history behind the headlines
26 Honor Roll At PodShare’s Venice, California, location, Elvina Beck (’08) makes communal living cool and comfortable. More on page 14
Student veterans share their experiences of combat, camaraderie, and the classroom
V O LU M E 1 0 | I S S U E 1 | S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 Pepperdine Magazine
Class Action Hero
Sanctuary in the Stacks
During a weekend trip to Comic-Con International, an English professor imagines how to incorporate famous fantasy into academic reality
The new Payson Library becomes the home away from residence halls for students
Cooking Up a Storm
A Place for All Voices
Sara Bunch, Sarah Fisher, Jakie Rodriguez (MS ’13)
Mallory Bockwoldt (’16), Ryan Kotzin
Ron Hall (’79)
interactive developer Kimberly Robison (’10)
Published by the Office of Public Affairs Rick Gibson (MBA ’09, PKE 121) Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President for Public Affairs and Church Relations Matt Midura (’97, MA ’05) Associate Vice President for Integrated Marketing Communications Nate Ethell (’08, MBA ’13) Director of Communications and Brand Development
As audiences demand more diversity in the content they consume, Britta Wilson (MBA ’92, EdD ’16) is in Pixar’s story room to make sure every voice is considered
During a season often associated with abundance, two alumni traveled to the devastated corners of Puerto Rico to serve those who lost everything
Keith Lungwitz Creative Director
Mauricio Acevedo Director of Digital Marketing
Guests of Honor
Meet the two visiting professors who engaged students in inquiry this spring
Student-athlete Kevin Hempy (’17) simultaneously excels on two different playing fields
6 Inside Voices
7 Campus Notes
48 The Cut
Each issue of Pepperdine Magazine contains a limited number of half- or full-page advertising opportunities for University departments and initiatives. To learn more about advertising, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen Haren (’97, MA ’07) Director of Digital Media Ed Wheeler (’97, MA ’99) Senior Director of Operations
Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. It is published three times per year by the University’s Public Affairs division and is produced with guidance from an advisory board representing a cross section of the University community. Send address changes with publication name to: Office of Advancement Information Management at Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, California 90263 Other information and queries should be directed to the editor: 818.702.1409 All material is copyrighted ©2018 by Pepperdine University, Malibu, California 90263. Pepperdine is affiliated with Churches of Christ, of which the University’s founder, George Pepperdine, was a lifelong member.
How do you define “home?”
t’s the place where we begin and end each day. It’s where we gather and feast. It’s where we seek shelter and sanctuary. We leave its comfort to explore worlds beyond its four walls, and when we return it greets us with a familiarity akin to a warm hug. In one of my all-time favorite TV monologues, Don Draper calls it “a place where we know we are loved.” Whether we inhabit it for a moment or for a lifetime, we fill our home with a spirit that is unique to that place. And when we find ourselves stripped of our safe place by circumstances beyond our control, we mourn it deeply. We feel unhinged. Home is the only place that truly makes us feel like ourselves. It’s where everything makes sense. As my own family recovers from a devastating house fire that has displaced us for more than a year, I am particularly sensitive to the unseen and rarely discussed realities of being without a home. That day, in the ash- and asbestos-contaminated cloud that suffocated my pre-disaster life, nothing made sense. I felt remarkably unprepared as I began to grapple with losing the place that hosted my favorite arts-and-crafts birthday parties as a kid and the groups of friends that milled about nervously before high school dances. That tiny dwelling that saw many transformations throughout its 20 years of service to my family was where my immigrant parents first felt the comfort, safety, and satisfaction of home in a foreign land.
It has been 14 months, and sometimes it’s still hard to imagine what it will be like to move back into a house that was so recklessly and unfairly stripped of every memory. It will be new and it will be different. Though its spirit survived, its bones were mangled and misshapen, and every shred of familiarity was destroyed forever. The Spring 2018 issue of Pepperdine Magazine explores the different meanings of home—from the distant sanctuary that stokes and stirs your innermost thoughts and desires, to the inclusive space where colleagues can express their distinct selves and thrive, to the trappings of a recovered life disguising a desperation to survive. We invite you to discover what home means to a road-weary traveler, a graduate student seeking temporary residence in a home away from home, and a military veteran searching for community in a new way of life. Now in its 10th volume, Pepperdine Magazine has, through words and whimsy, illuminated the place that our community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni call home. Over the last several months, the content curators and creative whizzes of Pepperdine Magazine have given it a fresh coat of paint and updated its look and feel to reach more of you in new ways. We hope you feel a bit closer to Pepperdine when you pore through the pages of this issue and that you drop us a line at email@example.com to share your feedback. We’d love to hear from you.
GAREEN DARAKJIAN editor
Coming Soon SUMMER 2018 A N N O U N C I N G
N E W
Inside Voices “Through strategic SGA programming, necessary conversations … have uncovered our student body’s underlying desire for deep inquiry …”
A Culture of Inquiry By Austin Welch Seaver College Senior President, Student Government Association President, Delta Sigma Pi Chair, Pepperdine College Republicans
It’s no secret that Pepperdine students strive daily to demonstrate the fundamental values of purpose, service, and leadership in everything we do. These qualities bleed into our collective consciousness and inform the conversations that bring us together to address the issues facing our communities and our world. These conversations push us to welcome diverse viewpoints and disagree respectfully with our peers without judging the character, integrity, or humanity of the person on the other side of the debate. As president of the Student Government Association (SGA), I encourage my peers to feel uncomfortable in these moments—in the sense that their beliefs and values will be challenged and questioned—and facilitate conversations where we can engage in respectful dialogue around difficult issues, whether political, religious, or ethical. What sets Pepperdine apart is a commitment to giving students opportunities to come together and allow each side to understand and learn why they hold their respective beliefs. I am most proud of the collective voice that chooses to discuss and unpack challenging concepts. That collective voice was asking for more, and it became my personal duty and the duty of the SGA to make that desire a reality. One of my priorities during my time as president was to increase the number of registered student voters in the months leading up to the 2016
presidential election. SGA provided opportunities for students to register to vote, handed out free pocket copies of the US Constitution, and signed students up for free online subscriptions to the New York Times funded by the SGA for every student, staff, and faculty member. With a multifaceted approach to critical engagement, we were able to register more than 300 student voters and assist them with redirecting their mail-in ballots to their Pepperdine mailboxes. SGA’s intention was to foster a culture of political engagement on campus and an understanding of what is going on outside of the “Malibu bubble.” Through strategic SGA programming, necessary conversations such as those that explore civil politics, cultural competence, LGBTQ issues, and faith have uncovered our student body’s underlying desire for deep inquiry into topics that many would consider controversial or divisive. Little can be done to change the reality of disagreement. However, what is possible— and what we strive to do—is to allow both sides of a conversation to come together and share why they hold certain beliefs. While uncomfortable at first, this model allows for respect and convicted civility— conduct that President Benton so affectionately encourages of all members of the Pepperdine community. Pepperdine students have found this model to be effective and fulfilling and are able to walk away from spirited discussions and share a meal together immediately after. These topics and the ways in which we explore them do not define who we are as people. They are merely one aspect of a very complex group of individuals who can look beyond party lines and faith backgrounds. They enhance those common bonds that unite us all as students at the college on the hill in beautiful Malibu, California. If we the students of Pepperdine are able to walk across the stage at Alumni Park on graduation day and lead lives that continue to model convicted and considerate discourse with one another, we will be the ripple in the ocean that ignites a wave of compromise and collaboration throughout the world.
Campus Notes PEPPERDINE PEOPLE
Willie the Wave In the surf, sun, or stands, life is swell for Pepperdine’s resident merrymaker.
Fans got a peek at Willie’s updated wardrobe, which
includes basketball and volleyball uniforms, as well as general workout apparel, at Waves Weekend 2017. Willie’s favorite uniform update: his new shoes. He feels more agile in the Nike sneakers that allow him to do so much more than his old flip-flops.
For the best views of any sporting event, Willie recommends scoring a seat in the Riptide Student Section of Firestone Fieldhouse. It has an unobstructed view of the court and is situated right by the Rally Crew, a spirited group of students who know how to get the crowd going.
While Willie loves all Pepperdine sports, he feels most at home
Matt Young, assistant director of athletics for strength and conditioning, helps keep Willie in
when cheering on the beach volleyball team. Beach volleyball became an official Pepperdine sport in 2011. The team won the AVCA national championship in both 2012 and 2014 and were runners-up in the 2017 NCAA championships.
shape with a workout routine that includes everything from hitting the sand dunes to stand up paddleboard yoga.
Willie stands 6 feet 4 inches at high tide Like many mascots around the world, Willie has taken a vow of
and maintains a balanced diet of fish and chips, sashimi, and kelp. He admits to indulging in Swedish Fish candies and sea salt caramel ice cream once in a while.
silence. Despite this, he brings a tidal wave of school spirit on game day.
Conservation Observations Explore all the ways Pepperdine keeps the Malibu campus focused on the environment.
IS MAINTAINED in a native state, providing a pristine natural environment
TARI FRAHM ROKUS FIELD is maintained
are S AV E D each year by using R E U S A B L E green boxes at Waves Cafe
are located in the Seaver Main Lot and Rho Lot
More than 4 billion gallons of
have been SAVED since the construction of the campus in 1972
(6 ports total)
FARMERS MARKET every other Tuesday
features O RG A N I C produce and LOCALLY produced foods
Source: Pepperdine University Center for Sustainability | pepperdine.edu/sustainability
Campus Notes SOUND BITES C H AT T E R Our social media accounts captured the buzz surrounding the new Starbucks on the Malibu campus. @KATIEBBEEE Pepperdine just got a Starbucks on campus and I’ve got meal points to spare
J. D. VANCE, author of Hillbilly Elegy:
“Don’t let your self-doubt be an out. Don’t let lack of faith in yourself be something that stops you from engaging. Surround yourself with people who will push back against your own moments of inadequacy.” JULIA ORMOND, actress and founder of the ASSET Campaign, on her advice to those who wish to effect transformational change
EVENT: Careers for Women in Policy & Politics
A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
EVENT: W. David Baird Distinguished Lecture Series
@SARAHCOLLEENXO If Pepperdine had had a Starbucks in Payson when I was there, breaks during Great Books would have been lit JOHN MIYAGI We only had Folgers instant coffee back in my day! @PITRFARKAS Now I really have to return to do my LLM here
“You can’t transfer someone from poverty to prosperity and just expect that all of their problems are going to go away. The way that we grow up, the habits that we develop, the attitudes that we form . . . those things continue to influence us even if we’re lucky enough to get out of the [places] that we came from.”
Students, faculty, and staff proficient in German, Spanish, French, Arabic, or Chinese may attend chapel services led in those languages by Seaver College professors.
“Ambiguous losses are a particular type of loss that lack a definition and lack closure. The ambiguous loss of singleness is particularly challenging to navigate. Humans don’t do uncertainty well.” KELLY MAXWELL HAER, Relationship IQ program director at the Boone Center for the Family, as quoted in O, The Oprah Magazine
“You’re on a lot of journeys: you’re on an educational journey [now], then you’re going to be on your economic journey. You’re also on a spiritual journey. Even atheists in the room have to decide, ‘What is the meaning of all of this?’” RAINN WILSON, actor
EVENT: A Religious Literacy Event: The Baha’i Faith
FROM THE ARCHIVES When the George Pepperdine College campus first opened in Los Angeles, Helen Pepperdine, wife of founder George Pepperdine, embroidered the GPC monogram on all the blankets in the men’s and women’s dormitories. Here, students Leon Manley and Thomas Scott study in their dorm room at Baxter Hall circa 1938.
Source: Pepperdine Libraries, Boone Special Collections and Archives
President Andrew K. Benton to Conclude Presidency in 2019
Pepperdine University president and chief executive officer Andrew K. Benton has announced his intent to conclude his presidency at the end of the 2018–2019 academic year. In a prepared statement to the University community, Benton said he and his wife have decided it is a good time for a change and that he has asked the Board of Regents to begin the process of selecting a new president. “This is a significant change that, while difficult, we believe comes at just the right time—for Pepperdine, for our students, and for us,” said Benton. “As president, I have always tried to make the hardest institutional decisions from a position of strength, and because of the talent and passion of our people throughout the last several decades, I can confidently say that Pepperdine has never been stronger academically, spiritually, and financially.” As he anticipates his final year of service as president, Benton plans to stay focused on the strategic priorities he believes will add value to the student experience and Pepperdine’s reputation among elite universities. These initiatives include the completion of the new Seaside Residence Hall and School of Law renovation, plans for a revitalized Washington, DC program and facility, and securing funds for a new student recreation and events center. Benton has committed to serving as president until his successor is found and will continue to serve the University as President Emeritus following the conclusion of his presidency.
At the end of his presidential tenure, Benton will be the longest serving president in Pepperdine’s 80-year history. Benton was announced as the seventh president of Pepperdine University on December 7, 1999, and inaugurated in September 2000. During his administration, he led Pepperdine to prominence among the nation’s top universities, overseeing key initiatives including construction of the Drescher Graduate Campus and identifying headquarters for the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and Graduate School of Education and Psychology at a new campus in West Los Angeles. Progress during his tenure is also marked by the opening of new campuses in Lausanne, Shanghai, and Washington, DC; the launch of Waves of Innovation; the dedication of the Keck Science Center, Mullin Town Square, and the Runnels Sports and Recreation Village; and the endowment and creation of more than a dozen centers and institutes across the institution. History will remember the Benton years as a period of exceptional growth at Pepperdine. Total University assets have increased by more than $1 billion during the Benton administration, and undergraduate applications at Seaver College have doubled, with more than 12,000 prospective students applying for admission for Fall 2018. The University also made prolific advances in online education, strengthened by strategic partnerships with leading education technology companies like 2U, and last year the campus community celebrated the reopening of a fully modernized Payson Library Continued on page 10
Headlines following an expansive renovation that transformed the space into a library for the information age. Among Benton’s signature achievements as president is the successful completion of the Campaign for Pepperdine, raising $470.8 million from more than 49,000 donors. Persevering through the economic challenges of the Recession of 2008 and highlighted by the University’s 75th anniversary in 2012, the campaign created more than 200 scholarships and a host of other academic and student-serving assets for the University. Benton’s term has also celebrated national championships in men’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s sand volleyball, and numerous conference victories in multiple sports. Often called “the students’ president,” Benton regularly teaches courses within the University and is deeply involved in the lives of students. Benton joined Pepperdine’s central administration team in 1984, serving in executive leadership roles including assistant vice president, vice president for administration, vice president for university affairs, and executive vice president. During those years, he played a key role in managing the University’s relations with the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Malibu. He also shepherded the approval of Pepperdine’s Long Range Development Plan and the development of the Drescher Graduate Campus. A Kansas native, Benton received his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Christian University and his law degree from Oklahoma City University.
10 Pepperdine Magazine
Pepperdine Mourns the Loss of Helen M. Young Helen M. Young, founder and first president of the Associated Women for Pepperdine (AWP) and former first lady of Pepperdine University, died on November 30, 2017. She was 99. In Firestone Fieldhouse, where 20 years ago her beloved husband, M. Norvel Young, was remembered by a community of friends and colleagues, Helen was honored with her own memorial on Friday, January 5, 2018. It was attended by hundreds of devoted friends, family, and witnesses to a magnificent life that was characterized by a generous spirit and incomparable influence. “I don’t believe I have ever known a person as gracious and welcoming as Helen Young,” said Pepperdine president Andrew K. Benton. “Her keen intellect and interest in all that was around her, the twinkle in her eye that attended every smile, and her devotion to Norvel and their family simply defined and personified grace, humility, and her profoundly deep love for all who were part of her life.” Born Helen Elizabeth Mattox on August 31, 1918, Young grew up in a devout Christian home in Oklahoma City. She initially began her college career in 1935 at Church of Christ sister school Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, but after two years, her mother encouraged her to risk going west to the new George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles to complete her undergraduate business degree. In 1938 Helen met Pepperdine history professor M. Norvel Young. The two fell in love and were married at her home church in Oklahoma City on August 31, 1939, marking the beginning of a love that would last for nearly six decades and produce four children. The newlyweds lived in Los Angeles as Norvel continued to teach at Pepperdine and then moved to Nashville where they both earned graduate degrees—eventually choosing to minister for 13 years with the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, which grew to be one of the largest Churches of Christ in the United States. In 1957 the couple was invited by the Pepperdine board of trustees to return to campus to serve as the University’s third president and first lady. As Pepperdine’s first lady, Young established the Associated Women for Pepperdine to use the power of women in support of Christian higher education, raising funds for student scholarships and influencing young people to consider Pepperdine as their college choice. AWP has raised millions of dollars since its launch in 1958. In 1996 they became the first benefactors of what would eventually become the Boone Center for the Family, a University outreach dedicated to strengthening the family. In September 2005 the M. Norvel and Helen Young Center was formally dedicated on the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu. Young is survived by her daughters, Emily and Sara, and son, Matt; 13 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Norvel; her daughter, Marilyn Stewart; her granddaughter, Monica; and her six siblings.
Second Annual Giving Day Generates Substantial Support from Pepperdine Community The global Pepperdine University community united on March 7, 2018, to give back during Give2Pepp, the University’s second annual giving day. Give2Pepp encouraged all Pepperdine faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to support the University’s academic, athletic, and international programs, as well as the numerous student life opportunities that uniquely define Pepperdine’s mission of purpose, service, and leadership. The event’s 37-hour giving window (from 9 AM PST on March 6 to 10 PM PST on March 7) honored Pepperdine’s 1937 founding and allowed for international participation across the University’s seven international campuses. “I was so excited to be able to invite the entire Waves family to join us for our second Give2Pepp,” said Laura Fehlbaum (’10), assistant director of Pepperdine Fund programs. “With more than 3,220 gifts made to unique Pepperdine passions, the Pepperdine community celebrated what Pepperdine means to us.” More than 3,200 participants, 917 of whom were firsttime donors, contributed to raising a total of $349,916, generated through onsite and online gifts of five dollars and greater. Participants were given the option to select from hundreds of designations spanning from Pepperdine Athletics to the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts to scholarships at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology to the Dean’s Excellence Fund at the School of Law. Pepperdine’s five schools also competed for a chance to win bonuses toward their student scholarships through a $25,000 gift generously donated by Pepperdine Regent Jim Porter. The School of Public Policy took first place and was awarded a $15,000 prize, followed by Seaver College and School of Law, which earned $7,000 and $3,000 in scholarship funds, respectively.
THANKS2YOU GIVE2PEPP was a huge success! 3,220
TOTAL AMOUNT RAISED
Missed Giving Day? It’s never too late to give back! Donate online: give.pepperdine.edu Send a check: THE PEPPERDINE FUND: 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy • Malibu, CA 90263
Pepperdine Theatre Presents BIG FISH - 12 Chair Version In November the Seaver College Fine Arts Division Theatre and Music departments presented the Luciana and Daniel Forge Fall Musical, BIG FISH - 12 Chair Version, based on the book by author John August with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. In the fantastical world of BIG FISH, familial bonds are built and broken as a father attempts to impart life lessons to his young son through the telling of larger-than-life tales in hopes that they will inspire him to dream bigger and live life to the fullest. As the young man grows up and adopts a more realistic outlook on life, he finds that he and his father have no common ground
between them and realizes they don’t know each other at all. Pepperdine professor of theatre and fine arts divisional dean Cathy Thomas-Grant directed the all-student cast, which featured Evatt Salinger, Angelo Silva, and Audrey McKee in the lead roles. “Directing this production has been a deeply personal experience, as a daughter and as a parent,” said ThomasGrant. “Storytelling is at the very heart of BIG FISH, specifically how the narratives we tell not only shape our legacy, but also connect us to others. Ultimately it’s a story about the devotion of family and the adventure that is life.”
Pepperdine Campuses to Become Smoke Free Beginning Fall 2018 Effective August 1, 2018, all Pepperdine campuses will become 100 percent smoke free. This new policy, approved by the University Management Committee, will apply to all campuses—both domestic and international—though designated outdoor smoking areas at graduate campuses will continue to be determined by building lease agreements. “This change in practice is a reflection of the care and concern many in our University have brought forward regarding the health of our community members as well as stewardship of our environment,” said Lauren Cosentino, chief human resources officer at Pepperdine University. “Becoming smoke free is another example of Pepperdine thoughtfully considering the well-being of our community while also providing care and support to each individual.”
Pepperdine Hosts Inaugural Take Back the Night Event
Diversity and Inclusion Symposium Draws Hollywood Experts
Nearly 100 members of the Pepperdine community joined in solidarity at the Malibu campus on November 13, 2017 for the University’s first-ever Take Back the Night event—an annual gathering hosted nationwide and around the world dedicated to ending domestic, relationship, and sexual violence. The event was cohosted by the Student Government Association (SGA), Title IX coordinators, and the Health and Wellness office. “This was a night of recognizing the voices in our communities that have experienced gender-based violence, working together to support those impacted, and also working to prevent it from happening,” explained La Shonda Coleman, Title IX coordinator for students. “It was a beautiful representation of the community coming together.” The event featured a resource fair where representatives from a variety of campus departments— along with student-operated organizations, including Crossroads, the Psychology Club, Waves Leadership Council, and the SGA—shared their support resources with attendees. The night also included performances by Pepperdine’s resident dance company Dance in Flight and two monologues from the internationally acclaimed, award-winning student play, The Interference. The evening continued with a solidarity walk from the Amphitheatre to the Gregg G. Juarez Palm Courtyard and closed with a prayer from University chaplain Sara Barton.
In partnership with Pepperdine Alumni Affairs, the Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture presented Engage: Navigating Hollywood’s Shifting Landscape at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica on November 3, 2017. The symposium was presented on the occasion of the American Film Market, the world’s largest motion picture business event, where more than 7,000 industry leaders converged in Santa Monica for eight days of screenings, conferences, networking, and social activities. The symposium featured leading Hollywood producers, strategists, and C-suite executives as they explored questions and offered insights about the redefining of mainstream content in response to demand for greater inclusivity. Television actress Lisa Vidal hosted the event while Suzanne de Passe, co-chair of de Passe Jones Entertainment Group, and Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming at Starz, served as keynote speakers.
ཁཁRead more: magazine.pepperdine.edu/take-back-the-night
Pepperdine Honors 500th Anniversary of the Reformation The Center for Faith and Learning commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with a service at Stauffer Chapel on October 31, 2017. The service honored the significant milestone in Christian history when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany in 1517 and launched the 150-year political and religious movement across Europe. With a focus on remembrance and Christian unity, the service included a reading from Martin
Luther’s first sermon, music from the Concert Choir and the Pepperdine Chamber Choir, a congregational hymn, and a benediction. “As a Christian university, we celebrate the rich history and traditions of the Christian faith,” said Stephanie Cupp, program coordinator at the Center for Faith and Learning. “This service commemorated both the rich traditions of the Protestant church and the more recent work being done toward unity in the Christian church worldwide.”
Pepperdine Hosts 11th Annual Women in Mathematics in Southern California Symposium The Seaver College Natural Science Division hosted the 2018 Women in Mathematics in Southern California (WiMSoCal) symposium at the Malibu campus on March 24, 2018. Nearly 100 attendees explored issues surrounding being a woman in the field of mathematics and learned about research being conducted by their colleagues across the region. The one-day symposium also allowed Southern California’s women mathematicians to meet and network with one another, thus promoting possibilities for collaborative projects and mentorship opportunities. Lily Khadjavi, associate professor of mathematics at Loyola Marymount University, served as this year’s plenary speaker. “It was a pleasure to host WiMSoCal at Pepperdine and to spend a day with women mathematicians from across experience levels and mathematical specialties,” said Courtney Davis, assistant professor of mathematics at Seaver College. “Student and faculty speakers told stories of new mathematical discoveries, and new connections were made both mathematically and personally. It’s an inspiring conference to take part in, and it was energizing to talk with other women about mathematical ideas and shared experiences.” The Women in Mathematics in Southern California symposium was co-created by Cymra Haskell, professor of mathematics at University of Southern California, and Ami Radunskaya, professor of mathematics at Pomona College, in 2007. Pepperdine University hosted this year’s symposium through a partnership between Davis, Haskell, and Radunskaya, with funding provided by the Dee Anna Smith Fund for Women in STEM.
Graziadio Business School Hosts First-Ever Graziadio Day On October 14, 2017, the Graziadio Business School hosted the first-ever Graziadio Day, an event connecting and celebrating thought leaders in the Graziadio community. Presented at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus, attendees heard from world-class faculty and alumni who are actively shaping today’s world of business and impacting trends. Faculty speakers Charla Griffy-Brown, Kevin S. Groves, Robert Bikel, and Craig R. Everett explored topics such as cyber security and risk, succession planning and talent management, and private capital markets. Kyle C. Murphy, practitioner faculty of strategy at the Graziadio School, led a special panel composed of alumni entrepreneurs.
School of Law Launches Disaster Relief Clinic
School of Public Policy Celebrates 20th Anniversary
The School of Law launched the Disaster Relief Clinic in October to serve people affected by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as by the wildfires in Ventura County, California. Sophia Hamilton (JD ’11), director of School of Law externships and pro bono programs, led the immediate responses with student volunteers. Jeff Baker, director of clinical education and associate clinical professor of law, led the full Disaster Relief Clinic in late January when the organization held its first field clinic in Ventura to assist clients with FEMA applications with support from area partners. In February 2018, the Disaster Relief Clinic and OneJustice held a clinic in Santa Barbara for FEMA applications and appeals. The Disaster Relief Clinic is forging partnerships to expand its efforts to provide research assistance to other volunteer attorneys in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. The clinic is also connecting with legal aid agencies and volunteer lawyers in Northern California to extend assistance to people displaced by recent wildfires.
The School of Public Policy commemorated two decades of academic excellence with a celebration gala at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on November 4, 2017. The Honorable Benjamin E. Sasse, United States senator representing Nebraska, served as the featured guest speaker, and members of the Pepperdine community addressed the audience throughout the evening, each one uniquely exploring the theme “A Way Forward” as it relates to the University, local and national governments, and the United States. School of Public Policy dean Pete Peterson (MPP ’07) discussed strategies for developing “a way forward” and examining the future of public policy. “In a time in our politics when debate is squelched and opposing views are attacked, we will demonstrate the public virtues of civility and humility as we welcome viewpoint diversity inside and outside the classroom,” he noted. “And in a time when the American people distrust our public institutions, we will continue to prepare leaders who define every day what it means to be a ‘public servant.’” Senator Sasse further evaluated the connection between the political and personal aspects of a successful governing body. As he explained, “Government, in the American tradition, is not the center of our lives. Government is about creating and maintaining a framework for ordered liberty so that—free from violence—you can be free to go out and live the rest of your life through institutions of volunteerism and persuasion and love.”
Pepperdine Hosts Women in Policy and Politics Symposium The Pepperdine Center for Women in Leadership, in partnership with the School of Public Policy, hosted the Women in Policy and Politics Symposium at Wilburn Auditorium on October 23, 2017. Guest speakers highlighted the challenges and opportunities for women in policy and political leadership by exploring the subject through three distinct themes: Women in Nonprofit Policy, Women in Government, and Women in Elected Office. Distinguished alumni among the symposium’s moderators and panelists included Regan Harwell Schaffer (MA ’93, EdD ’02), director of the Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative and professor of organizational behavior and management at Seaver College; Ashley Trim (MPP ’09), executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the School of Public Policy; Pete Peterson (MPP ’07), School of Public Policy dean; Lindsay Young (MPP ’10), White House web consultant; and Alicia Weintraub (MPP ’02), City of Calabasas councilwoman.
� Read more: magazine.pepperdine.edu/ spp-20th-anniversary
HOME Home isn’t always sweet, and the barriers to attaining—and maintaining—housing are abundant. Here’s what a group of Pepperdine people are doing about it
By Gareen Darakjian
lvina Beck (’08) was never allowed to go to slumber parties. “Nothing good happens after midnight,” her mother would insist, as she picked up the reluctant youngster at 11:59 PM while her friends continued to laugh and play inside. “So, I grew up and made a business around slumber parties,” Beck explains with a laugh from her 50-square-foot living space at PodShare Venice, where she stays with 30 to 40 other “podestrians”—transplants, tourists, temps, and anybody with $50 who needs a place to crash for the night, a few weeks, or longer. Most nights she sleeps at one of five PodShare locations in the Los Angeles area, communal living facilities built on Beck’s desire to provide affordable living spaces for adults. The most recent PodShare location cropped up this spring in Westwood Village, just blocks from the UCLA campus, far from where Beck was first introduced to the idea of shared living. Like many immigrants, Beck’s family fled the Soviet Union in 1990 in search of a better life in America. The Cold War had ended and Beck’s father knew someone who had settled comfortably into a Russian community in Brooklyn. “We lived with them in a tiny apartment and shared their resources,” Beck recalls of the communal living arrangement she experienced from an early age. “They were kind and took us in. It was a shared space where everybody grew as a community.”
You can FIND A HOME ANYWHERE as long as you SHARE IT . Elvina Beck
Five years ago, after stepping away from a film production career that she found unfulfilling, Beck tapped into the burgeoning sharing economy that was quickly gaining steam. She learned that more than 57 million people in the US— many of them between 20 and 24 years of age—prefer freelance work to nine-tofive jobs. This emerging model, however, almost ensured that many members of this distinct group were unable to invest in real estate without the stability provided by a traditional job. With the rise of industry-disrupting startups like Uber, AirBnB, and other Silicon Valley superpowers that redefined the ways that we access basic services, Beck determined that the future of real estate was flexible and accessible—and communal. “The sharing economy is a self-empowerment movement, and housing needs to model that,” Beck says. “The idea is that you can find a home anywhere as long as you share it.” Beck’s “pod” is designed to resemble an adult bunk bed with amenities including device-charging ports, a 22-inch flat-screen TV programmed with Netflix, Hulu, and games, an LED nightlight, a memory foam mattress, and enough sheets and blankets to accommodate a comfortable stay. She uses the same communal spaces as the patrons, including bathrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, a creative/work space with computers loaded with Adobe software, and, at the Venice location, a lush backyard decked out with a ping pong table, a basketball court, and enough space for residents to gather and share tales from their travels. Like Caleb*, a wedding photographer from London coming off the busy summer season and seeking adventure in the form of a bike tour down the length of the Baja Peninsula. Or Paulina*, a twenty-something Croatian student looking to establish a career in the nonprofit tech world in the US. Or Sam,* a video game and mobile developer from Saudi Arabia who stayed at PodShare’s Hollywood location for two weeks while in town for a project. In his country, he drove his mother to the grocery store because she isn’t allowed to have a driver’s license. At PodShare, he was surprised to learn that the woman sleeping across the way from him drove herself to work every day and came home and cooked pasta for all the residents. “PodShare especially opens your eyes by allowing you to live with roommates that are not like you, which in Sam's case means living with women,” Beck explains. “One thing that the sharing economy does, whether it’s car sharing, home sharing, or pod sharing, is it subconsciously opens you up to killing all of these ‘isms’—racism, ageism, sexism.” *Names have been changed
We wanted to come up with a solution to HELP RENTERS . Michael Lucarelli
When Michael Lucarelli (MBA ’16) and Paul Sirisuphang (MBA ’16) learned that they had been accepted to the full-time MBA program at the Graziadio Business School, they became acutely aware of the supply-demand mismatch seen in many metropolitan areas. Lucarelli and Sirisuphang, who moved to Los Angeles from New York and Thailand, respectively, had a difficult time navigating the increasingly complex and frustrating rental process while relocating. “You have to fill out multiple rental applications to submit them
to multiple properties, pay application fees each time, and have your credit run multiple times,” says Lucarelli. “It affects your credit score and costs you time and money. We wanted to come up with a solution to help renters,” a population that Lucarelli says is at a disadvantage due to low supply and high competition, particularly in Los Angeles. In their entrepreneurship course at the Graziadio School led by associate professor of entrepreneurship Larry Cox, Lucarelli and Sirisuphang dreamed of developing a universal rental application that renters could fill out once and submit to multiple properties with the click of a button. Shortly before they graduated in 2016, the duo founded RentSpree, a nationwide
online rental application and tenant verification platform that streamlines the lease application process. While initially focused on serving renters, Lucarelli and Sirisuphang shifted their focus to providing tools for real estate agents to screen tenants and collect applications and rental fees in an efficient manner. The software service that Lucarelli and Sirisuphang engineered, with the help of a team of five developers in Thailand, now gives more than 5,000 real estate agents and property managers instant access to a potential tenant’s rental application, their credit report, a full background check, and a national eviction report, whereas real estate agents traditionally work with largely manual processes and very few digital tools. “While RentSpree is geared toward the property side, the tools help solve many renters’ issues that we were trying to tackle initially,” says Lucarelli. “We just took a different route to getting there.” Because the RentSpree platform is utilized by property owners, managers, and agents, the team develops new tools while keeping the interests of all parties in mind. One particular issue sure to impact the housing industry in the near future involves the increasing number of complaints of disability discrimination processed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing each year. Sirisuphang says that landlords and property owners are not the only parties susceptible to housing violations and that managers and leasing agents must be careful to avoid unjust discrimination based on FHA regulations. “Discrimination against renters with service or companion animals is not allowed,” he explains. “We restrict the information provided on rental applications so that landlords and managers will not be presented with information related to these types of animals. This will prevent a landlord from inadvertently rejecting a rental applicant due to a service or companion animal.”
Sirisuphang, who holds a degree in computer engineering from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, explains that RentSpree’s long-term plan is to become a new standard for online rental applications. Shortly after launching the product, the RentSpree team was contacted by the California Association of REALTORS®, who acknowledged the need for streamlining the rental process for agents and proposed a partnership opportunity, giving RentSpree—and its services—access to more than 180,000 real estate agents in California. Now RentSpree is the only universal rental application and screening tool offered to agents throughout the state. Their vision also caught the attention of advisors and investors like John Paglia, executive director of the Dan and Coco Peate Center for Entrepreneurship and professor of finance at the Graziadio School; Mike Sims, former executive officer of corporate and external relations for the Graziadio School; Danielle Dutcher (’01), a seasoned real estate professional; and Mary Lou Graziadio. “Renters often feel like they don’t have a lot of leverage to put their best foot forward to secure the rental property that they want,” says Lucarelli. “Being able to impact both sides of the industry allows us to address the issues and improve housing conditions for everyone involved.”
Providing these types of housing SOLUTIONS not only keeps people OFF THE STREETS , but it also SAVES TAXPAYERS MONEY . Derek Day
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According to a report released by the Department of Regional Planning this January, Los Angeles County is in dire need of at least 17,000 affordable housing units for many low-income communities. In L.A. County alone, nearly 60,000 people are without a home, a statistic that the Los Angeles Times recently called a “national disgrace” and “a grim reminder of man’s ability to turn his back on his fellow man.” At nonprofit housing agency Brilliant Corners, Derek Day (MPP ’16) is part of the organization that prioritizes the chronically homeless population, those transitioning from homelessness and institutional settings, and homeless veterans—particularly those
individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs. Day is a housing supervisor for the program that was founded on a housingfirst ideology—essentially, that providing housing to homeless individuals would improve their access to treatment as well as their quality of life. Long hospital stays and medical treatments can be costly for the county, and without a permanent address, access to case management and care is difficult and oftentimes impossible. “Providing these types of housing solutions not only keeps people off the streets, but it also saves taxpayers money. As long as Brilliant Corners operates, [our clients] will have a subsidy. The subsidy changes their life,” says Day of the more than 3,450 individuals the organization has housed in Los Angeles County. “Most of our residents cooperate with us and are willing to make adjustments to maintain their housing.”
While Brilliant Corners offers services to help previously homeless residents transition to self-sufficiency, Day’s department is focused on permanent solutions to keep retention rates high and works with homeless individuals to help navigate and overcome common barriers to renting such as eviction, criminal history, and immigration status. In a year and a half, Day has acquired more than 150 residential units and partnered with both large housing corporations and smaller operations to expand Brilliant Corners’ portfolio. Day’s priority is locating housing that is both habitable and can accommodate a resident’s specific needs, keeping in mind access to transportation, area safety, and proximity to shopping centers, grocery stores, and health services. Day explains that the residents’ greatest challenge is reintegration into society, especially when considering the implications of scattered-site housing— units dispersed throughout residential neighborhoods as opposed to housed within a designated community. “Our participants have to get used to having a place to call their own and dealing with people who come from different backgrounds, especially people who have never been homeless, and changing some of their habits that may not be conducive to their success,” he says. Day’s passion for the nonprofit sector was inspired by his father who graduated with a degree in social work. “That’s where my heart is,” he says. After completing an internship at the County of Los Angeles Department of Military and Veteran Affairs while at the School of Public Policy, Day encountered daily the complex issues impacting the homeless population. That’s when he discovered the link between his passion and the impact he could make in the nonprofit world. “In some ways, [nonprofits] can be more efficient and inspire more innovation than some other organizations,” says Day. “There is much more flexibility at Brilliant Corners, and we’re able to develop new and trendsetting ideas, which is why we are the top program in L.A. County focusing on homelessness. We have the ability to change processes that some government agencies may not want to change. It’s exciting to be part of an organization that creates new ways to tackle problems that may not have been solved yet. We’re lucky to have great elected officials in the city that are 100 percent focused on ending homelessness in Los Angeles County.”
COMPELLED TO MOVE BY JAKIE RODRIGUEZ (MS ’13)
AMID A SURGE OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL M O V E M E N TS T H AT H A V E C A PT U R E D T H E N AT I O N ’ S I N T E R E S T, P E P P E R D I N E ST U D E N TS E M B A R K E D O N A N A N N UA L EXPERIENCE TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY BEHIND THE HEADLINES
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“What are you doing for others?” While a seemingly simple query, Martin Luther King, Jr., describes it as being “life’s most persistent and urgent question.” Dedicating his life to the advancement and equality of the marginalized, King chose to lead by example, becoming the voice of the civil rights movement in the 1960s just as the fight for justice was becoming more widespread among other movements.
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During a weekend typically dedicated to honoring the legacy of the civil rights activist, Seaver College students traveled to San Francisco to explore, through a deeply personal, firsthand examination, the historical context and the pioneers that defined some of the most memorable and impactful social justice movements of modern history. The program emphasized the importance of precedent in framing ongoing social and political issues and developing new strategies for addressing the injustices currently impacting various communities. It also engaged students in an exploration of the actions they can take to serve others. Prior to their journey, students selected to participate in the experiences that most resonated with them from a list of social justice movements with roots in San Francisco, including the green power environmental movement, the LGBTQ social movement, women’s liberation, black power, red power, and the arts movement.
THERE IS A RICH HISTORY THAT HAS LED TO THIS MOMENT. – VALENTINE DOUGLAS
David Humphrey, associate dean of student affairs for diversity and inclusion, assisted in planning the field trip, now in its seventh year. Joined by 16 faculty and staff members, Humphrey was particularly looking forward to the trip to provide participants with a unique space to have critical and intentional discussions about social justice issues of varying kinds. Peace Ikediuba, a sophomore theatre major with an acting emphasis, was placed in the arts movement group that guided students on a tour of the vibrant murals across San Francisco and explained how they helped bring together various communities throughout the city. The murals ranged in theme, from the pursuit of the American dream to symbols of gentrification, the latter a controversial piece that faced backlash for covering up an existing mural painted by a neighborhood youth arts program. Despite not participating in the black power movement group, her first choice, Ikediuba left with a much deeper appreciation of her power as an artist, as she was able to witness firsthand the impact that art could have in a single community. “I felt more empowered after attending my specific field trip, especially because I am a theatre major and feel so connected to the arts,” she shares. “Experiencing the beauty and power of art showed me how impactful art and artists can be.” Outside of San Francisco, students who were chosen to participate in the black power movement group traveled to the neighboring city of Oakland to meet with former Black Panther Party member Billy X Jennings and visit locations where the party was first created, where prominent party members lived, and where some of
the party’s members were shot and killed. Jennings, the party’s official archivist, shared personal anecdotes and his private interactions with leaders of the party. Sophomores Olivia Robinson, an integrated marketing communication major, and Heavin Hunter, a political science major with a minor in nonprofit management and pre-law, were grateful for the opportunity to learn about the party’s history from someone who was deeply involved throughout its rise and fall. “Getting to see things with our own eyes really put things into perspective because there isn’t a museum that has all that stuff,” Robinson shares. “None of the locations really had signage.” Despite having substantial knowledge of the civil rights movement and its fight for equality, participating in the half-day Black Panther Party tour far exceeded Hunter’s expectations. She describes it as a “very beautiful experience” and walked away considering the ways in which she can apply the party’s commitment to solidarity, unity, and consistency to future social justice movements and initiatives. Sophomores participating in the women’s liberation movement explored the Women’s Building in San Francisco, which is decorated with a striking mural that covers most of the building’s exterior and celebrates feminine icons of history and fiction who are united by their shared struggles. Valentine Douglas, a junior film studies major and Intercultural Affairs student worker, shares how the movement that originated five decades ago helped pave the way for current social justice movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up that have mobilized new advocates for equality and inclusion.
FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE ISN’T AN EVENT. IT’S A DECISION AND A LIFESTYLE. – OLIVIA ROBINSON
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“We have to recognize that it’s not just this incredible thing that sparked out of nowhere,” he says. “There is a rich history that has led to this moment.” After spending the day learning about various social justice movements and exploring all that San Francisco has to offer, students reconvened Saturday evening to share what they had learned and reflect upon the day. As Hunter’s peers shared anecdotes from their experiences, she realized how many commonalities existed between the diverse social justice initiatives. “We’re all seeking for our voices to be heard for justice and equality,” she explains. “And through that, we have to make sure that we’re validating others’ movements and their feelings and their concerns and at the same time making progress by remembering history.” After sharing in small groups, Humphrey led a conversation that challenged students to think about how they could incorporate what they had learned from their movement in their daily lives. For Robinson, this large group discussion was the most powerful. “It is our responsibility to take the knowledge we have back to Pepperdine’s campus with us in order to be good stewards of what we’ve learned and empower others to not only participate in what they believe in, but to fight for the rights of marginalized people and groups in order to create a more united and understanding society,” she shares. The notion of commonalities echoed in Sunday morning’s convocation service led by Pepperdine associate chaplain Eric Wilson, who touched on the interconnectedness of the movements and the connections between
faith, love, unity, peace, and history. During Wilson’s remarks, Robinson was reminded of God’s place in the fight for justice and the importance of involving him more so that “God can make way for our movements to be blessed.” As the convocation came to a close and students joined faculty and staff in a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, Douglas couldn’t help but muse on the symbolism of moving across the massive structure. “We were encouraged to think about ways in which we are engaging in this movement,” he says. “Now that we have been moved, we must continue to move.” The urge to “continue to move” compelled students to plan concrete ways in which they can utilize what they learned and apply it to their communities in their return to Malibu. From performing small acts of kindness, to practicing self-care, to conversing with their classmates, sophomores from this trip plan to create ripples within their community. Reminding herself that she is doing it for God, Ikediuba plans to do simple but impactful acts by being kind and helping those in need. “The action doesn’t need to be big,” she shares. “I just hope to serve others and reflect God in everything that [I] do.” For Hunter, she hopes to prioritize self-care in order to better serve her community and advocate for the marginalized. Characterizing it as a grassroots approach to social change and social action, she plans to take what she has learned and apply it to her life on campus. “It’s great to spread your roots widely and advocate for all these different causes, but it’s also just as important to spread your roots deeply,” she explains. Robinson says the trip has helped her feel rejuvenated in her efforts toward fighting for justice. She plans to bring conversations about various social justice issues to the Social Action and Justice Colloquium (SAAJ) Outreach that she launched last year. As a branch of freshman seminar, SAAJ Outreach allows students to take what they have learned from the classroom and apply it to the greater Pepperdine community. No matter how students hope to effect change, Robinson shares that it should be an ongoing process. “Fighting for justice is not an event,” she says. “It’s a decision and a lifestyle.”
Photos: Stephen Davis, Heavin Hunter, womensbuilding.org
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Student veterans share their experiences of combat, camaraderie, and the classroom By Sara Bunch
uring the height of the unrest surrounding the Vietnam War, members of the military became a
lightning rod for anti-war protests and returning veterans were heckled and harassed for their involvement in the incredibly divisive international event.
While an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Dan E. Caldwell, distinguished professor of political science at Seaver College and chair of the Pepperdine Committee on Student Veterans, recalls walking into his freshman English class in his Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) uniform and being chastised as if he were single-handedly responsible for the turmoil. Caldwell also remembers someone in a passing vehicle shooting at NROTC midshipmen during a marching drill—the only direct fire he experienced during his entire military career as a United States Navy lieutenant, which lasted from 1971 to 1974. Later, Leland Stanford’s original hunting lodge on “The Farm”—which at the time was used for NROTC classrooms—was burned down, and other university students prevented midshipmen from attending their NROTC classes. In an effort to mitigate further harassment, cadets were subsequently relieved of their requirement to wear their uniforms while attending weekly classes on the Stanford campus. Over the last few decades, this spiteful attitude against members of the military has shifted dramatically toward one of appreciation and gratitude. As Caldwell points out, “About 2.6 million people served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but people today don’t seem to blame the members of the military for causing the wars in those countries.” Today at Pepperdine, student veterans are welcomed in an atmosphere of mutual respect, where their experiences and the talents they developed while serving in the Armed Forces—skills such as effective communication, strong team building, and personal accountability practices—are considered particularly beneficial to completing a degree from a top academic institution.
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Student veteran Jessica Egan (’15) understands the value of these transferable skills, particularly since leaving the United States Marine Corps to pursue higher education after five years of service. As a psychology major who enrolled at Seaver College as an undergrad at age 25, Egan launched the Pepperdine Student Veterans Organization, an on-campus group that facilitates undergraduates’ transition from military to civilian life. “I had to grow up really fast in the Marines,” admits Egan, currently a thirdyear student at the School of Law and an active member of the school’s Veterans Legal Society who served an 11-month deployment in Afghanistan. “There are challenges to coming back. For me and for most people I know, you go from this extreme sense of camaraderie to feeling completely disconnected [from your peers].” During her service, Egan was a C-130J crew chief, ensuring that C-130 aircraft were safe and ready for takeoff and running missions in the air while the pilots steered the plane. “When I got to Pepperdine, I went from being responsible for a $60 million machine and the lives of my crew to my biggest responsibility being getting myself to class,” says Egan. “It’s comforting to know other people who have been through the same experiences as you, which is incredibly valuable because there are so many things to navigate [as a student]. It’s nice to have friends at school supporting your transition.” Egan happily shares that she has received the utmost respect from other students throughout her years at Pepperdine. “I encountered a lot of people who were interested in hearing about where I came from, and I was interested in hearing about their lives as well,” she says. “Just two weeks before I started at Seaver College I was serving in the Marine Corps, which calls for a vastly different lifestyle. But at Pepperdine, I found a lot of peer support about where I came from before I arrived here.” MBA candidate Luis Murillo also became determined to help student veterans as much as possible after serving in the United States Coast Guard. As president of the Graziadio Veteran’s Business Society at the Graziadio Business School, he now has the opportunity to explore the needs of the veterans enrolled in Pepperdine MBA programs. As Murillo discovered through building relationships with this
distinct student population, most people are seeking connections with those in the industries they aspire to join—a goal he also shared when he first came to Pepperdine. “I have a strong government background, so trying to break into the private sector was a challenge in the beginning because I wasn’t familiar with the job interview process,” Murillo shares. He explains that he relied on his connections through the Graziadio Veteran’s Business Society to become acquainted with various companies and employers. “Learning to network was a very valuable part of being in the program,” he says. “In the past, we have invited veteran alumni working in the private sector to come to Pepperdine and speak to our student veterans about how they got to where they are, offer professional advice, and discuss leadership strategies. It’s a great opportunity to meet people and make new connections.”
There are challenges to coming back. . . . you go from this extreme sense of camaraderie to feeling completely disconnected. – Jessica Egan
200 military veterans are currently enrolled at Pepperdine in pursuit of completing or advancing their education.
Graduate School of Education and Psychology
School of Public Policy
School of Law
Graziadio Business School
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Ranked as the 18th-most veteran-friendly school in the nation, Pepperdine is becoming known for its impactful financial assistance and support programs for student veterans. Last year Pepperdine devoted $2.6 million to make up the difference between funds provided by the federal government and actual student costs. With the increasing number of veterans on campus, Pepperdine is also embarking on a new veterans initiative to raise funds for scholarships and access services, such as tutoring and mentoring, that will ensure their success as they transition to an academic setting and prepare for a new future. In 2013 The Ahmanson Foundation awarded 25 private colleges and universities in California, including Pepperdine, funds to be used specifically to recruit, retain, and educate student veterans through the Ahmanson Veteran Scholarship Initiative. They have committed more than $1.25 million a year to these schools, each receiving approximately $50,000 per year. Only two schools, Pepperdine and the University of Southern California, receive $75,000 per year because of their large respective student veteran population. Along with the University’s recognized efforts to facilitate the enrollment of veteran students— specifically through partnerships with veterans’ education offerings such as the Yellow Ribbon Program—Caldwell aims to further enhance the student veteran experience before they even arrive on campus. When veterans leave the military, they are given a document called a DD214 that summarizes the service awards they received while on duty and other notable accomplishments throughout their service According to Caldwell, unless admissions officers are veterans or have worked closely with veterans, they will most likely lack the sufficient background to
understand the significance of these records when included on college applications and resumes. For example, if candidates identify themselves in terms of their positions with the Armed Forces, such as Egan’s experience as a crew chief of a C-130 aircraft while serving in the Marines, a civilian admissions counselor could completely overlook the tremendous amount of responsibility that particular job requires and thus disregard candidates who demonstrate superior intelligence and courage under challenging circumstances. This is especially alarming in instances where applicants have lower grade point averages and test scores than traditional students applying for college right out of high school, deeming the veterans less desirable candidates and potentially influencing a university’s enrollment decisions. With this goal in mind, Caldwell recently met with members of the University administration to discuss a new option: reviewing applicants’ veteran records along with their regular forms when considering them for enrollment. Plans are underway to establish a special committee at Pepperdine comprising at least one veteran or a person familiar with veterans’ accomplishments to review applications from this particular demographic in order to appropriately assess their relevant experience and skills. “Firefighters, police officers, and members of the intelligence services and military are the only members of American society who volunteer to risk and, if necessary, give their lives for their fellow citizens,” Caldwell points out. “Institutions should do much more than just rhetorically thank members of the military for their service, especially since they have the opportunity to step up and actually do something tangible to recognize them. Pepperdine alumni should be very proud that their alma mater supports its student veterans in both tangible and intangible ways.”
Learning to network was a very valuable part of being in the program. â€“ Luis Murillo
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The birthplace of numerous celebrated salsa vocalists and musicians, Puerto Rico’s southern town of Ponce has been defined as the cultural heart of the island. After the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria, the town commonly known as “The Pearl of the South” is now among the island’s desolate grounds.
Read about how two alumni served those most affected by Hurricane Maria. More on page 46 Photo: David Andrade (MPP ’11)
D U R I N G A W E E K E N D T R I P T O C O M I C - C O N I N T E R N AT I O N A L , A N E N G L I S H P R O F E S S O R I M A G I N E S H O W T O I N C O R P O R AT E FA M O US FA N TA SY I N TO AC A D E M I C R E A L I TY By Sara Bunch | Illustration by Rick Gibson (MBA â€™09, PKE 121)
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Accomplished archer Clint Barton leads a double life. While he may look like an average New York citizen at first glance, this modern-day superhero with exceptional eyesight spends his spare time fighting crime on the tough streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, often encountering dangerous conflicts with the Russian mafia causing trouble in his neighborhood. But he doesn’t fight for righteousness alone. He belongs to a special gang of professional—and mysterious—warriors known internationally as the Avengers, who call Barton “Hawkeye.” magazine.pepperdine.edu
where physical appearance is not an accurate representation of one’s personality or identity, Hawkeye demonstrates that apparent simplicity is often a disguise for covert complexity—not unlike professor Lisa Smith’s writing class, which features a special assignment to analyze the 2013 standalone comic book starring the master marksman. Though Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon is the shortest required reading assignment in Smith’s English Composition I class, students discover over the course of the assignment that it is unquestionably the most challenging.
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While attending Comic-Con International 2016 in San Diego, Smith fatefully happened upon the convention’s Comics Arts Conference. The visiting assistant professor of English was intrigued by the academic focus of the event and the variety of educators and scholars engaged in analyzing the content of comic books on a level deeper than the average fan or reader. Inspired by the thoughtful examination of a medium not often explored in a university setting, Smith began to seriously consider incorporating comic books as a teaching tool for story analysis. “Comic books push students out of their comfort zones,” explains Smith. “They don’t have to become comic specialists in my class. They just have to engage in the infrastructure of the stories and understand the theories behind them.”
Smith explains that students don’t have the same preconceptions about comics as they do about novels or movies that they have read or experienced in the past. “It’s difficult to get out of a certain mind-set,” she explains. “Comics are new and fresh, so it’s more exciting for them to analyze.” Smith’s personal challenge was learning to master a book with a structure so vastly different from conventional college-level literature. At first read, Smith discovered the nonlinear narrative style and devices typical of contemporary comics. “Comics are very visual and force you to jump around on the page. Each page is very different to view and read,” says Smith, whose literary expertise lies within traditional storytelling, where events are mostly introduced in chronological order and all descriptive elements are presented through text, as readers are challenged to construct mental pictures to visualize the imagery presented on the page.
In a nonlinear storyline like Hawkeye, the lack of text encourages readers to instead pay close attention to design elements such as color coding to comprehend chronological changes and emotions. “I emphasize in the course that students must make numerous decisions as writers in order to get their points across,” Smith notes. “And there are many choices to be made in writing comics because of all the visual pieces, like the color scheme, illustrations, and the switching back and forth between different time periods. The analysis is a little more demanding.”
In July 2017 Smith presented her own pedagogical insights about comic analysis with her peers at the same event that had inspired her just one year prior. Based on a paper she had submitted for consideration, Smith explored “Beyond Strunk & White: Using Comics to Teach Students to Write Analytically.” At the conference, Smith revealed that this specific assignment turned out to be an effective gateway to engaging those students who usually sit quietly in class and are sometimes intimidated to share their thoughts with others. During the first semester with the updated curriculum, one
Comic books push students out of their comfort zones. —Lisa Smith
student in particular found that his comic book expertise gave him the confidence to lead class discussions and offer his insightful observations with his classmates. “I had of course read Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon before and could not wait to analyze it,” says Seaver sophomore Jaibir Nihal Singh, an avid comic book reader who has been enjoying the genre as a pastime since childhood. He admits that even he learned for the first time the tremendous effort that goes into developing these comic books. “I was always a big fan of Marvel comics and have a huge collection of them,” the media production major shares. “But I’ve only read comics as a fun hobby and never analyzed them before this class. Through this assignment, I learned more about comics than ever before while analyzing them in detail and exploring the different techniques and references that are employed throughout the books.”
A PLACE FOR ALL VOICES As audiences demand more diversity in the content they consume, Britta Wilson (MBA ’92, EdD ’16) is in Pixar’s story room to make sure every voice is considered
By Sarah Fisher
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T There’s a cultural evolution taking place in organizations across the globe, albeit gradually, and businesses are slowly starting to explore what Britta Wilson has believed for years—that talent goes to waste when diverse employees are sidelined and a perception of belonging does not exist. Advocating for the excluded has been a part of her DNA for as long as she can remember, and finally more and more companies are hiring experts like Wilson to unlock the potential of their workforce by pursuing inclusion and combating ingrained biases.
“The work of inclusion and embracing difference gets done by challenging belief systems that are often invisibly embedded into the organizational behavior and culture,” she says. “We have to be willing to explore conversations we’ve not really had in the workplace before. Setting the tone at the top and creating safe spaces to examine beliefs so that these conversations can occur shows progress and a commitment to development. But this can’t be a onetime effort or program. It’s something that must be woven into the fabric of the organization.” Wilson is currently the first-ever vice president of inclusion strategies for Pixar Animation Studios, the film studio behind animated favorites such as Toy Story, Up, and, most recently, Coco. The role, which she took on in October 2016, was born out of the studio’s desire to empower a wider variety of voices to shape the stories and to ensure that their films will resonate with the broadest audiences possible. For example: Pixar’s most recent release, Coco, celebrates Mexican culture and explores themes of family, community, and tradition. Since its October 2017 release in Mexico, the film has been a huge hit across the globe. It is the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico and has achieved unprecedented success in China. Coco was in production
before Wilson arrived at Pixar, but its success speaks to a global appetite for compelling diverse stories. “A great story will resonate across all geographies, allowing for opportunities to reshape narratives about a culture or a group of people,” she says. “That is what’s exciting about the impact we can have via our storytelling.” One pervasive industry narrative has been that films about African Americans “don’t travel well.” In other words, they don’t perform well internationally. Wilson calls Disney’s February release of Marvel’s Black Panther “revolutionary” as the first superhero film in the franchise to feature an almost-exclusively African American cast. The blockbuster crossed the $1 billion mark in its first month of release and is now the highest-grossing superhero origin story. “Black Panther not only clearly smashes that narrative and subsequently disrupts belief systems, but it also takes a great step forward to recognize the importance of representation in our culture,” she comments. “The opportunity for kids to see a superhero that looks like them, with the beauty and richness of the melanin in their skin along with a story that celebrates their culture—that’s worth its weight in gold. I think those opportunities will start to happen more and more as
the entertainment industry sees the power, impact, and financial results of embracing diversity.” Wilson’s role at Pixar, she says, allows her to poke at default patterns of thinking during story and character development in order to consider broader choices. “If we’re discussing a story point about a character assumed to be male, I will raise the question of gender, ethnicity, and race, as well as the physical or even the geographical setting of the story,” she explains. During his acceptance speech for the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature, Lee Unkrich, the director of Coco, perfectly captured the studio’s attempt to think more broadly and inclusively. “With Coco, we tried to take a step forward toward a world where nonwhite children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do,” he shared. “Representation matters. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong.” It is this thinking and commitment that drew Wilson to Pixar. “There is a plethora of generic diversity jobs out there, but there are only a small handful where I would have an opportunity to contribute to and impact stories that reach a billion eyeballs globally!”
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S Soon after joining Pixar, Wilson launched studio resource groups to build upon existing communities of affinity and expand and explore opportunities for intersectionality. Wilson has spearheaded and been active in these types of groups for as far back as she can remember and found them personally valuable and professionally impactful, especially in the early days of her career when she recalls feeling quite alone in the workplace. “There were few faces that looked like mine and even fewer, it seemed, that were also new moms attempting to navigate work and motherhood, so I started a group for working moms of color,” Wilson says of the group that was initially meant to offer a safe space to share experiences and resources. When their employer asked for their input on childcare benefits and how to achieve better work-life integration, the group experienced the impact these opportunities could have. “This is the power of inclusion,” Wilson remarks. “It reinforces a sense of belonging and knowing that you, your voice, and your contributions matter.”
INCLUSION REINFORCES A SENSE OF BELONGING AND KNOWING THAT YOU, YOUR VOICE, AND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS MATTER. Creating an environment of trust to understand the spectrum of experiences was Wilson’s first goal at Pixar. Believing that the work of inclusion occurs at the cultural level, she kicked off a listening tour to make herself available to anyone and everyone who wanted to share. “I wanted to demonstrate curiosity, understand the company culture through the lens of those who had been experiencing it, and learn how that culture manifested in the organizational beliefs and behavior. I also wanted to ascertain their thoughts on what was needed to achieve inclusion,” she explains. Wilson was surprised when one-third of the studio took her up on her offer to chat. “What I learned from talking to a broad cross section of the studio helped inform our strategy.”
Part of Wilson’s long-term strategy is to expand upon the learning culture at Pixar. In early January this year she hosted a day of learning at the studio featuring workshops and flash-learning courses about topics not usually discussed in the workplace, such as the neuroscience of bias and inclusion, leading in difficult times, and the language of inclusion. The day was designed to launch a series of learnings, conversations, and experiences to informally extend employees’ knowledge and satiate their curiosity. “Requiring people to participate in potentially difficult conversations or even in topics of unfamiliarity seemed counter to our objectives. We went into it knowing we might be throwing a party no one would come to,” Wilson laughs. The event yielded an almost 70 percent participation rate and prompted powerful conversations in which people felt emboldened to share their own experiences. “People said it was the best day they’d ever had at Pixar; that it revalidated and inspired their trust in the power of diversity, generally and in storytelling,” she says. “By all accounts it was a super-positive day, and we remain excited about the possibilities now that beliefs are being reformed and apertures are being opened. Pixar is committed to continuing to build on this foundation in its journey to inclusion.”
W Wilson paused her career to get her doctorate in organizational leadership from the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Her thesis explored the perceptions and experiences of chief diversity officers in establishing and maintaining an inclusive work environment within large global organizations. “It is critical for the Hollywood industry and every industry that we recognize voices that have not been in positions of power and haven’t always been invited to the table,” she says. “In order for us to be the best of ourselves, there has to be a place for all voices.”
Cornel West Distinguished Visiting Professor in Global Leadership Graduate School of Education and Psychology COURSE: Ethics, Personal Leadership, and Social Justice
ver the last 15 years, the Ethics and Personal Leadership course led by professor Farzin Madjidi, associate dean of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology Education Division, has emphasized to students the relationship between civility and discourse and how necessary the alignment of their thoughts, beliefs, and actions are to their success as leaders. This spring the course included a social justice component and was co-led by author and public intellectual Cornel West, Distinguished Visiting Professor in Global Leadership, an appointment that was made possible by alumna Kathy Danhakl (MA ’02) through the Danhakl Family Foundation. In partnership with Madjidi, West led students of both the EdD program in Organizational Leadership and Change and the PhD program in Global Leadership and Change— Pepperdine’s first-ever PhD program—on an exploration of how civility and discourse can engender radical change. “When we talk about civility, we’re talking about civilitas, which relates to
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the public sphere and public conversations—trying to respect the views of others but also being willing to stand up for things that have to do with our common humanity,” shares West, who is professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard Divinity School and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. “We need leaders who exemplify the courage, the compassion, the maturity, and the integrity connected to broad visions that embrace everybody.” As an educator, a critical part of West’s mission is to encourage students to find their voice and engage them in their own quest for truth by examining the figures throughout history who have demonstrated a desire for change through compassion, “so leaders in the making can see the leaders in the past who exemplify those values,” he explains. From January to April, West led the in-person component of the course that focused on topics of social justice and ethics. The curriculum employed themes from his own books, Race Matters and Black Prophetic Fire—both seminal texts in the study of diversity and inclusion. Madjidi, a widely known expert in diversity in education, coordinated the online component and focused on ethical and personal leadership while weaving in themes of inclusion, diversity, and social justice. “We don’t view social justice as a topic or mandate,” Madjidi explains. “We believe
it’s the right thing to do and that it must be ingrained in the values of every leader.” Students explored themes of social justice and ethics as they reviewed trial footage, case facts, and other readings of two high-profile cases—that of Tookie Williams’ execution and the Menendez brothers' trial—with marked differences in privilege, wealth, and access. Students acted the part of a clemency board and, by analyzing their own beliefs, as well as literature focused on justice, punishment, and privilege, were able to critically examine their deeply held values and how they make decisions based on multiple factors. Their values and beliefs are what West believes are special about Pepperdine students. “They raise their voices with respect in a civil but passionate way, because, thank God, they are on fire,” says West. “They care about justice. They care about their neighbor.” West explains that his faith also plays a significant role in the ways that he encourages students to evaluate their leadership potential. “As a Christian, I begin with a certain kind of intellectual humility. That I am fallen. That I am finite. That I’ve worked to think through some issues, but I could be wrong,” he says. “I may have certain expertise regarding one subject matter, but I still have my own form of learned ignorance, so I have to be critical of myself and, most importantly, listen and learn from the students.”
Meet the two visiting professors who engaged students in inquiry this spring By Gareen Darakjian
Jeffrey Sikkenga William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor School of Public Policy COURSE: Public Policy and Religion: Religious Liberty
s the Supreme Court prepares to determine an outcome in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Pepperdine students will have the opportunity to study and think through the issues alongside court proceedings. “Once you get beyond the fact that everyone agrees on having religious freedom and get to what it actually means—and what it means for public policy—we get some pretty important differences pretty quickly,” says Jeffrey Sikkenga, who this spring will teach a course on religious liberty as the William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy. “We’re going to have a lot of conversations. We’re going to be living it.” Through the examination of writings by visionaries like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison, Sikkenga will lead students on an exploration of the disputes among the American Founders on issues of politics and religion and, in particular, religious freedom. “There are theoretical arguments but also practical public policy issues that they grappled with in the beginning of the Republic,” Sikkenga explains. “We’re also going to look at how the Supreme Court has interpreted the first amendment, particularly the free exercise of religion clause.” The course, Public Policy and Religion: Religious Liberty, will engage
students in an exploration of John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration, one of the foundational texts in the Western tradition arguing for religious liberty and one that Sikkenga himself is currently exploring in a book of his own. He is confident that students will be fascinated by Locke’s arguments with opponents in his own day who were against religious freedom, especially the ones who argued for an established church and religious persecution. Religious liberty, Sikkenga contends, has reemerged as a problem in America to be grappled with. “Going back to a text like Locke’s helps us to rethink those fundamental questions.” Some of Sikkenga’s most memorable moments as a political science professor at Ashland University in Ohio are the natural conversations that emerge when undergraduate students, for the first time, encounter the profound thoughts and questions raised by familiar historical figures whose works they have never explored deeply. Through the undergraduate and graduate courses he teaches in political thought, the American founding, and American constitutional law at his home institution, Sikkenga facilitates conversations about the great thinkers and helps shepherd important thoughts that students confront in introductory texts.
“Does it make sense? What criticisms can we raise? What arguments can we make to defend the author?” insists Sikkenga, who considers himself, as Socrates put it, a midwife for other people’s thoughts. “I don’t think it’s my job to tell students what to think or even tell them what I think. When we discuss a text, I make the best argument I can for the author no matter who the author is and whether I agree with the author or not. It’s my job to make that argument and spur that conversation.” That kind of inquiry, Sikkenga explains, is what history and political science—the foundational disciplines for public policy—are supposed to do. “That’s actually the original meaning of the word “history”: inquiry. We’ve lost that in our disciplines. I love it when the students take over the class in conversation. Oftentimes, when we get to disagreement in some places in classes, that’s where the discussion ends,” he continues. “In my opinion, that’s where it has to begin.”
IN THE STACKS BY SARAH FISHER
T H E N E W PA Y S O N L I B R A R Y B E CO M E S T H E H O M E A W AY FROM RESIDENCE HALLS FOR STUDENTS
“I’m infatuated with books, and I love to go there to study or read by myself. It’s become a place of sanctuary,” she says. Vartan hasn’t always had this cozy relationship with Payson Library, which reopened in August 2017 following an ambitious 15-month renovation project. The journalism major remembers the library as being “inviting but dated, with a ’70s vibe”—definitely not a sanctuary. Yet when Payson Library reopened it became Vartan’s special place on campus where she learns, refreshes, and thrives. Creating a beloved space for students—a “third space” beyond the dormitory or classroom—at Pepperdine’s Malibu campus was a top priority for the library’s renovation project. After all, history shows us that incredible things can happen when curious minds find the right setting in which to thrive; from the Founding Fathers gathering to visualize a new nation in Fraunces Tavern, New York, to the bustling Les Deux Magots in Paris, which became the social space for luminaries such as Simone de Beauvoir, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway to develop artistic and intellectual concepts in the 1920s and ’30s.
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“Social” might not be the word you typically associate with a library. But Mark Roosa, dean of libraries, had this vibrant, Parisian cafe-style community in mind when he and the renovation committee began reimagining Payson Library a few years ago. Part of the project’s eventual success, he says, is owed to something he calls the “Starbucks effect.” Focus groups revealed that the place where students studied the most outside of the residence halls was not the library but instead the Starbucks in Malibu, about a mile off campus. “It could have been another brand or a generic coffee shop, but I think the Starbucks effect is a very real cultural phenomenon, and I think we actually underestimated its power in drawing people to the library,” Roosa notes. “Having it on the threshold makes a big difference. It’s an effective way of bringing people to the library and having them stay.” It was a thrill felt throughout the University when the library reopened along with Pepperdine’s first branch of the famous coffee shop on the first floor—the lines were out the door every day during New Student Orientation. Roosa points out that in previous years students would use the library at the beginning of term, but then usage
NEW PAYSON LIBRARY
There’s a quiet corner in the upstairs of Payson Library that Seaver College senior Kristin Vartan considers her own. This space is lined with cherrywood, and the self-proclaimed bibliophile says she practically lives there.
would flag until midterms or finals. The renovation has upended that completely. “From day one, the new library has been filled with students. It’s very unusual,” says Roosa, adding that the renovation committee researched a variety of communal spaces, such as museums and cafes, for inspiration on how design, layout, and even furniture arrangement impacts consumer engagement and retention. “We made a point of designing many different spaces that people can call their own.” The Special Collections wing, once only accessible by signing in with ID and leaving belongings in a locker, has been made “radically open” to engage students and faculty alike. Vartan, whose cozy corner of sanctuary is close to Special Collections, takes advantage of the opportunity to go through the 80-year archives of the Graphic, of which she is the first-ever director of engagement. Last year only a handful of classes were held in Special Collections, while approximately 30 classes took place there during the Fall 2017 semester. “We’re seeing a real change in the tenor of the place—more teaching and learning than ever before. We have more requests for groups to meet in the library than we can accommodate,” Roosa says. Elizabeth R. Smith (MA ’03, EdD ’16), assistant professor of journalism and director/advisor of Pepperdine Graphic Media, can usually be found farther up campus cheering on her Graphic staff in the Center for Communication and Business, but the Starbucks has brought her down to the library more than ever before. “It’s so easy to get good coffee now, which has encouraged me to take meetings down there,” Smith says. “I always noticed there wasn’t a place on campus where students congregated, and this seems to fill that need. Pepperdine has always been great at giving students a way to come together, but it’s usually targeted on a specific event or group activity.
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We’re seeing a real change in the tenor of the place— more teaching and learning than ever before. –Mark Roosa
The library has become that general space to drink coffee, study, and meet up with friends.” Following Payson Library’s successful reinvention as Pepperdine’s “third space” on campus is an administrative awareness that the University needs a fourth, fifth, and sixth space in which community can thrive outside of the classroom and residence halls. A new student recreation and events center is in the planning stages as another multiuse space, and Roosa says this is just the beginning in a series of exciting spaces on campus. “One thing we know is that students like to have a lot of choices in order to personalize and share experiences with one another,” he shares. “The library won’t be in competition with new spaces, but it has set the bar for a new campus social space. Each space will serve a different purpose. And that’s what we want— multiple meaningful spaces.”
By Sara Bunch
During a season often associated with abundance, two alumni traveled to the devastated corners of Puerto Rico to serve those who lost everything
n September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria charged through Puerto Rico and left the tiny island in ruins. As shocked and shaken residents began to face the aftermath of the destruction, everyday necessities like running water and electricity became unaffordable luxuries. With the holiday season approaching, Michael “Tank” Gonzales (JD ’08) knew that his New Year’s Eve plans would include an element of service. The financial services attorney and former gang member, who now mentors active gang members in their pursuit of more positive and productive paths, wanted to end the current year and start the new year by giving to others. On his drive home after Thanksgiving dinner, he called a friend who had served in Puerto Rico soon after Hurricane Maria had made landfall to inquire about how to get started helping the survivors. “She told me, ‘Every single set of hands is helpful,’” recalls Gonzales, who recruited his younger sister, Sara, and cousin, David Andrade (MPP ’11), for the journey ahead. After raising more than $11,000 through a GoFundMe account, and with the help of a strategic social media campaign driven by celebrity tattoo artists, the trio left for San Juan on December 26 to spend 11 days cooking with Fundación El Plato Caliente, a nonprofit organization that provides hundreds of meals per day for the area’s homeless and jobless individuals. They spent five hours each day
preparing traditional Puerto Rican food— some days up to 400 meals—for the locals of Santurce, a heavily populated, underserved district located in the northeastern region of the island. They delivered the meals to locations experiencing power outages and also made stops along the way to hand out the meals to people they saw on the street. The volunteer cooks also helped spread their message of global compassion while standing in the kitchen assembly line, posting photos and videos of their experience on social media platforms to encourage assistance and donations. Their photos of Santurce reveal the survival instincts of the townspeople, many of whom—including children—have resorted to carrying weapons to protect themselves and stealing drinking water from one other. These circumstances, coupled with insufficient law enforcement, have pushed Santurce into a perpetual cycle of drugs, theft, and gang violence. According to Andrade, a restaurateur who owns two cafes in the Los Angeles area, “There is a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots, as well as a lack of urgency on the part of fellow Americans to help them.” Months after their return, emergency food supplies in Puerto Rico remain scarce and local cafes and restaurants have been unable to maintain regular operations without consistent access to water and electricity, which has further strained the island’s local economy. “If one of us hurts, we all hurt,” adds Gonzales, who dedicates one month each year to engaging in international service projects. Over the last several years, he has traveled to 45 countries and explored all seven continents to “serve and spread love.” “If we spend just a little bit of time thinking about how to make other people’s journeys better, the world will be such a better place,” he says. “Monetary success in your career is great, but there is nothing in this world like touching people’s lives at the moment that they need it. And when you help them, you’re giving to yourself just as much as you’re giving to them.” Andrade (center) and Gonzales (far right) with the El Plato Caliente team.
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There is a huge gap between the haves and the havenots, as well as a lack of urgency on the part of fellow Americans to help them. – David Andrade
Dual-Court Student-athlete Kevin Hempy (’17) simultaneously excels on two different playing fields
evin Hempy understands the value of rules. As an aspiring sports law attorney in his first year at the School of Law, he is fiercely passionate about the federal, state, and local regulations that tactically defend against those who have broken the laws of the land. On a different playing field, Hempy considers practical defense strategies to protect his teammates against their opponents as a forward on the Waves men’s basketball team— only the third Pepperdine student-athlete who has attempted to participate in both endeavors simultaneously at the NCAA Division I level. After transferring to Pepperdine as a sophomore and earning a spot on the men’s basketball team after trying out as a senior, the NCAA redshirt rule granted Hempy official permission to continue playing college sports during his fifth year at the University, even after graduating from Seaver College to the School of Law. Basketball, he explains, has always been an important part of his life. “One of my earliest memories is of my dad teaching me how
to shoot on a Little Tikes hoop,” Hempy recalls. “Basketball has taught me countless lessons that I have applied to my life both on and off the court. There are a number of external factors that affect the game, like referees and injuries. In those
administration and faculty as well as Waves men’s basketball head coach Marty Wilson, the men’s basketball staff, and the entire team.
“Basketball has taught me countless lessons that I have applied to my life both on and off the court.”
situations, it is better to control what you can, such as your own attitude and effort.” Hempy’s unconventional path runs parallel to Pepperdine’s philosophy behind both athletics and law, which emphasizes a commitment to ensuring that each move is thoughtful and intentional. At the School of Law, Hempy has exercised this skill most pointedly in his first-year legal research and writing course, which demanded attention to detail that he hadn’t experienced in the past. “We learned to look at every single word that we write and ask ourselves if it serves a purpose. I’ve learned to apply that approach to basketball with the plays that we run,” he shares. “It has been a good lesson in time management for me,” Hempy says about Upon entering their first year of juggling his college, NCAA Division I studenttime between athletes are granted five years to law school play four seasons of sports. This and basketball technicality allows student-athletes to practice, a take breaks from competing in sports balancing act that teams in the event of injury or to take is supported by advantage of study abroad programs. the law school
By Sara Bunch
Wilson shares that Hempy is a great role model for his teammates both on and off the court. “Kevin has been a great addition to our team because he exemplifies all that coaches preach about hard work, discipline, being a great teammate, and, more importantly, being a great person to be around,” Wilson says. “The lone fact that he is juggling the hours of being a first-year law student and participating as a Division I basketball player is remarkable.” Hempy expresses a deep appreciation for those who encouraged his two interests and provided him with the necessary support and guidance to continue exploring his passions. “This is what makes Pepperdine such a special place—that the administration, faculty, staff, and coaches are continually trying to make the best possible experience for the students. I am so thankful for the effort that they have all put in to make it work for me.”
Upload Mobility As the world’s reliance on online resources continues to grow, Pepperdine faculty, students, and alumni are engaged in developing original, groundbreaking, and
easy-to-use mobile apps.
Alumni Arian Behboodi (JD ’16, MBA ’16) and Zachary J. Darwish (MBA ’16) launched the GivnGo app, which allows users to donate their spare change from recent purchases to any charitable, educational, or religious organization.
FROM THE TOP: “GivnGo is a convenient way to give back and a way to partake in service on a micro level. Giving is not a rich man’s sport, so you can donate what you can. A little bit goes a long way.”
LEARN MORE: givngo.com
— Arian Behboodi
SLOPES Timothy Lucas, associate professor of mathematics at Seaver College, codeveloped Slopes, an app that helps students understand the content he teaches in his Differential Equations course.
Alumni: Joshua Haug (’17) Seaver College Seniors: Frederick Jacques Joubert Frank Garcia
LEARN MORE: slopesapp.com
Faculty: J. Stanley Warford, Professor of Computer Science Dana Zurzolo, Former Visiting Professor of Graphic Arts
Along with a team of seven others through the startup company PwrdBy, Graziadio Business School alumni Oumayma Raimi (MBA ’16) and Chris Rovin (MBA ’14) co-created OD Help, an app that connects potential opioid overdose victims with local carriers of naloxone—a medication used to block the effects of opioids.
APPY FEAT: PwrdBy won the FDA Naloxone App Competition in 2016
GET THE FULL STORY BEHIND THE APPS AND THEIR DEVELOPERS: magazine.pepperdine.edu/upload-mobility
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Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, and friends. T...
Published on Apr 26, 2018
Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, and friends. T...