Pepperdine People Magazine
Pepperdine People Magazine Fall 2005
ONE ORIGINAL IDEA
The new reality television show The Scholar is based on the original idea of Seaver College alumna Shannon Meairs, class of 2000, and her associate Jaye Pace, former admissions officer of Columbia University. Meairs spent the past year developing the one-hour, unscripted show that gives the winner a college education from a top-rated school of their choice. The prize, worth as much as $240,000, is donated by The Broad Foundation. The first, six-week summer series set the stage: 10 gifted and talented high school seniors from economically disadvantaged backgrounds competed in areas of academics, leadership, creativity, and community service while facing sudden-death oral exams before a three-person scholarship committee. "It's such an honor to be able to bless these kids with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to see the changes that took place in them," said Meairs of The Scholar experience. Meairs, who worked as a Pepperdine admissions counselor, now runs her own college admission counseling company for high school students and their parents.
RETURNING TO HIS ROOTS
Growing up in a suburb of York, Pennsylvania, David Blechertas couldn't see himself returning as an adult to live in the post-industrial city. But since earning a graduate degree in 2004 from the School of Public Policy, Blechertas has not only returned to York, but he's been a part of its improvement. As zoning officer for the city of 40,000, Blechertas applies a major amount of the philosophy and economics lessons he learned at Pepperdine to the inexact science of planning and shaping his hometown's future. Though the community of 40,000 continues to struggle with industrial blight and aging neighborhoods, York is experiencing a downtown revitalization. Blechertas can take credit for some of the improvements that he's participated in: an abandoned factory now an office building, the preservation of an historic highway garage, trees encircling an unsightly scrap yard. "It's the beginning of the upswing for York and it's so exciting to be a part of it," Blechertas added.
LEADING WITH VISION
After completing the online master's in educational technology in 2003 from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, James Riley had a better understanding of using technology "in a totally different way than what I was used to." Riley knew what learning outcomes were needed from the 130 students at the South Los Angeles charter school where he teaches, and he developed a plan for getting there. Riley partnered with Apple Computer's 1 to 1 Learning, resulting in an iBook laptop computer for each student at the Culture and Language Academy of Success. This 21st-century learning tool is the most advanced environment for learning available, according to Apple. Its research shows that students' routine access to laptop computers results in higher writing assessment scores, better analytical skills and problem solving, and all lead to higher student achievement.
AN EXPERT ON SECURITY
Seaver graduate Jami Miscik (class of '80) has resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency after 22 years to accept a position in the private sector. She is now based in New York City, working as a senior vice president and the global head of sovereign risk at Lehman Brothers. Pepperdine Professor Dan Caldwell attended the ceremony of his former student who received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal from George Tenet, former director of central intelligence (pictured). Miscik's most recent CIA job was deputy director for intelligence, managing several thousand CIA analysts. Other CIA positions she held included national security council director, and director of the Office of Transitional Issues. Miscik graduated from the University 25 years ago with a double major in political science and economics, and was named Distinguished Alumnus in 2001.
ANNOUNCED FROM SACRAMENTO
California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger appointed Beverly Reid O'Connell to the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench. Previously a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Los Angeles office, Judge O'Connell was sworn in during a July ceremony. A School of Law (SOL) magna cum laude graduate in 1990 from Pepperdine University, she has been an SOL adjunct faculty member since 1998. While a student, she served as managing editor of the Pepperdine Law Review. Her husband, Daniel, also a member of SOL class of 1990, is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney. "Beverly is very capable and will represent the residents of California well in her new assignment," confirmed Ron Phillips, Pepperdine University vice chancellor and School of Law dean emeritus. The governor named two other Pepperdine graduates to the bench: Sanjay Kumar (SOL '90) to Los Angeles County Superior Court; and Barbara A. Kronlund (Seaver '85) to San Joaquin County Superior Court.
REPRESENTING SAN FRANCISCO
Fiona Ma is halfway through her four-year term representing District 4 as one of 11 members of the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors. A few years before that election, Ma added to her financial expertise as a certified public accountant by earning an executive MBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management (class of '00). "The graduate program strengthened my strategic leadership skills that I use every day as a public servant," said the native New Yorker, born to immigrant parents from China. Ma sees another government role in her future; she's running for the State Assembly 12th District seat.