Pepperdine University 2003 Annual Report A Heritage of Faith
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A Heritage of Faith    Spirit of the Past    Wave of the Future    From Sea to Shining Sea

Wave of the Future

Los Angeles SkylineFollowing are glimpses of Pepperdine alumni and students whose lives are improving our nation and the world. Faith must fuel the future. Because without faith, it is very possible that the future will falter, and we will become victims rather than victors of our circumstances.

In his founding address of September 21, 1937, George Pepperdine said, "I am endowing this institution to help young men and women to prepare themselves for a life of usefulness in this competitive world and to help them build a foundation of Christian character and faith which will survive the storms of life."

Tara LawrenceAt age 14, Tara Lawrence began volunteering with the American Cancer Society in her native New Jersey. As she worked with little children afflicted with cancer, she discovered that one of the hardest things about the illness is the hair loss that accompanies therapy. She started a letter and telephone campaign, asking organizations to donate caps to the children. This grew into the Hats Off for Cancer organization, which was able to provide hats autographed by Barbara Walters, the cast of the "Today Show," N'Sync, and other celebrities. Tara is now a senior at Pepperdine. She plans to edit a book of stories and poems written by children with cancer and use the royalties to open a summer camp for cancer patients.

Hollie Packman earned her master's degree from Pepperdine in 1997. She and her husband, Daniel, began helping homeless people in an unlikely place-Malibu. They soon were acquainted with a half-dozen, then a dozen people who wanted only a second chance at life. As the group grew, an organization was formed: S.O.S. Ministries. Through it, the homeless are offered food, assistance, and prayer. Hollie says the number one prayer request is for work. She and Daniel and those who have joined them are making a tremendous difference, creating a safe place where men and women can make a new start. In one corner of Malibu, hope burns brightly.

Ted Leenerts was a pilot in Vietnam, then a test pilot, and finally an aircraft commander for Alaska Airlines. But
he felt a call to some higher purpose. In addition to his flying schedule, he became a chaplain for Alaska and later ministered to families who lost loved ones aboard Alaska Flight 261 that went down off the coast of Port Hueneme, California. Ted earned a master's degree from Pepperdine to assist him in counseling. He was ordained as a pastor and took on the chaplaincy of the Newport Beach Police Department. After the devastation of September 11, 2001, he was among the first counselors at Ground Zero. Whether in the midst of death or soaring at 30,000 feet, Ted is a voice of compassion.

Jeremy Estrada grew up as a gang member in East L.A. At age 12, his best friend died in his arms of stab wounds.
In and out of detention facilities, by 18 he had seen more hatred and violence than anyone should ever see. After being arrested on a weapons violation, he was sentenced to a behavior modification high school-and something finally clicked. "I always knew there was a God," Jeremy says, "and as I looked at the beautiful mountains, I was reawakened to His power." Jeremy entered college, transferred to Pepperdine, and graduated in 2002. Today he's a husband, a father, a Marathon athlete, and a mentor for at-risk teens. He says, "Education, rather than violence, is now my passion."

Pierre-Richard ProsperTwo months before the twin towers fell in New York, Pierre-Richard Prosper was sworn in as ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, a new position with the U.S. State Department. Before that he served as a war crimes prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Africa. He was the first prosecutor to win a guilty verdict on genocide charges in an international tribunal. Pierre-Richard, a 1989 graduate of the Pepperdine law school, said, "My education taught me that, no matter what, I should use my skills to help society. I must attribute this to Pepperdine, because I went into law school with a completely different perspective. [Because of what I learned at Pepperdine] I went into public service and did what I could in Rwanda."

As valedictorian of the Pepperdine School of Law, class of 1999, Jill Jones Cucullu was courted by many prestigious law firms. But she turned her back on lucrative offers and chose instead to begin a work among the homeless in downtown Los Angeles. At the Union Rescue Mission, the largest homeless shelter in America, she launched Pepperdine's Legal Aid Clinic to help men and women find their way back from legal disaster. Former homeless people who are participating in various rehabilitation programs are helped to clean up their financial, tax, and other legal problems. Another Pepperdine attorney has replaced her now, as Jill gave birth to her first baby. But she remains a selfless and inspiring pioneer.

In 1995, Tom Burnett completed his Pepperdine MBA at the Graziadio School. As senior vice president at Thoratec Corporation, he worked hard and was respected by his coworkers. After completing his MBA, Tom and his wife, Deena, began their family, and by September 11, 2001, they had three little girls. September 11 was the day of destiny when Tom Burnett and his fellow passengers aboard Flight 93 would resist the hijackers and interrupt their plan to destroy a vital target in Washington, D.C. Deena said of Tom, "He was a man of heartfelt compassion, deep convictions, love, and had a keen sense of right and wrong. He believed that morals and values were not debatable."
In an alumni publication from January 1958, Mr. Pepperdine wrote, "I am counting on you, the alumni, to live long after I am gone and to continue the ever increasing and widening waves of good citizenship and Christian influence embodied in the ideals of our college."

We believe the students and alumni of Pepperdine University have not failed our founder.

We have included quotations from America's past that echoed from Philadelphia to Washington, from Boston to Richmond-words of affirmation and caution from patriots who forged a new nation. The faith that animated those heroes also inspired the explorers, the pioneers, and the builders of the nation that was taking shape. The vision of a free and unified nation soon spanned the broad, beautiful continent. Every American is deeply indebted to those who first envisioned our national freedom and all those who have been willing to spill their blood for it.

We also offered several stories of Pepperdine people who are accomplishing wonderful things and carrying the message and mission of faith into tomorrow. It is difficult to mention stories of the good things that are happening, because by necessity we must leave out many stories, and there are so many unsung heroes who serve silently,
in anonymity.