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Pepperdine: 1937 to a New Millennium

Carmen Landrum

The promise to "change lives" is not prominent in Pepperdine's marketing materials, nor posted on its website. And it was not in the brief but poignant speech that Mr. Pepperdine delivered on September 21, 1937, to the 2,000 assembled to celebrate the beginning of his new college. But it was one of the reasons that 167 pioneering students enrolled that first year. Carmen Landrum, now 96, was one of them.

"I'm from Tompkinsville, Kentucky. Pepperdine was a new adventure for me! The campus buildings weren't finished when the students arrived, so we lived for two weeks in the William Penn Hotel down on 8th Street. A tour bus would appear every day after we'd eaten our breakfast and take us to see all the sights around Los Angeles. I remember exactly how our dorm rooms looked, and I remember our dorm matron, Miss Middlebrooks. She knew how to lead without being too strident and forgave us when we weren't in bed on time. I majored in business administration and took a minor in English. All the students ate together in the dining hall and we had wonderful conversation.

Diploma for Carmen Landrum

"…After graduation I wanted to stay in California. Mr. Pepperdine gave me a job in his office at Western Auto Supply on the corner of 11th and Grand. I worked there for almost a year, until he decided to sell his share in the company. He gave me an introduction to four or five banks and I went on to work for Bank of America for many years."

First Female Graduate, George Pepperdine College

From Carmen, Class of '38, to more than 90,000 alumni over seven decades, the Pepperdine experience has been about changing lives. Law student Cory Stephenson ('10) shares his story.

Cory Stephenson

"I did four years of undergraduate studies here and decided to stick around for three more in law school. I can definitely say that it wasn't because of the national rankings, the spectacular view, or the good-looking girls on campus (although all of this helps). It was because of Gabriel, the maintenance worker who cleaned my dorm freshman year and who now, five years later, still remembers my name and will stop to ask me how I am doing. It is because of Professor Sugimoto, the professor who baked me a cake on my birthday. It was the University Church of Christ that gave my faith a place to grow.

"Yes, Pepperdine is certainly in the life-changing business. And it is not just through the international programs or curriculum. It is through the people. The mission of George Pepperdine resonates all over this campus. From the ground up, this university is devoted to shaping its students into something bigger than themselves. I know that here, I am not only being prepared to leave this place as a steward of knowledge, but as a person of character and faith who has a place to call home."

First-Year Student, School of Law