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Seaver College to Celebrate Diversity and Community Belonging at 14th Annual Loqui Ceremony

Loqui dance performers

On Friday, April 26, 2024, at 1 PM in Smothers Theatre, Intercultural Affairs will host the 14th annual Loqui ceremony, a yearly celebration of the diverse cultures that shape the Pepperdine experience and deepen the University’s collective sense of belonging. The event will feature a multitude of culturally significant performances, including a dance production by the Santa Monica Ballet Folklorico and vocal performances by Seaver College students Norvashua Cottingham and Nicole Fashaw. Additionally, the Loqui ceremony will honor several students, faculty, and staff for their commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture on campus. Alumna Debrena Jackson Gandy (’87), a public speaker, author, and success coach, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

“Loqui is such a special time for our community as we celebrate commencement weekend at Seaver College,” shares Terra Hall, associate dean of student affairs for diversity and belonging at Pepperdine. “Since its inception, which was inspired by our dynamic group of students and dedicated staff and faculty, we continue this legacy of acknowledging and celebrating diversity at Pepperdine. We are excited about this year’s celebration and know that this important and celebratory tradition will allow us to experience God’s love and light within each of us in a special way.”

Jackson Gandy was an active student leader during her time at Pepperdine, including serving as president of the Society for the Advancement of Management, junior class president, an ASB student senator, and chair of the Community Affairs Committee. While a full-time student, she also operated a typing business on campus, Hyper Typers, serving many of the Pepperdine Waves basketball players. Additionally, she was a student employee in the Career Center and was instrumental in helping implement a system that increased the job and internship placement rates for Seaver College students. As a nationally published best-selling author, speaker, master life coach, transformational facilitator, mentor to 12 women leaders, and president of a personal and business development company for the past 25 years, Jackson Gandy has touched and impacted hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. She’s been seen on national and regional TV shows, in national magazines and regional newspapers, and on more than 55 radio, podcast, and YouTube shows. 

This year’s student honorees include Seaver College seniors Kimberly Banda and Alexandria Córdova, who will both receive the Bowers, Davis, and Todd Awards for Leadership in Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

Banda is from Edinburg, Texas, and has always been passionate about community engagement. Coupled with her vision for social justice and equity, Banda was inspired to create new clubs and resources for herself and her fellow students. She served in several leadership roles on campus, including as president of the First-Generation Club and Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Incorporated, and as vice president of administration for the Student Government Association. Guided by a foundational scripture, Micah 7:8, and her personal motto, “Si se puede,” which translates to “Yes you can,” she embodies resilience and determination in all that she does. Banda will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in both Hispanic studies and political science and intends to pursue a career in immigration law, raising awareness of available resources and advocating for underrepresented communities.

Córdova was raised in Elk Grove, California, and is a member of the Elk Grove Church of Christ. Service and social justice are important to Córdova, and accordingly she has held executive positions in the Black Student Association. As the former service chair and current co-president, she has worked to cultivate a sense of belonging for Black students at Pepperdine through programming and advocacy. Córdova will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with minors in ethnic studies and social work. After graduation, she plans to pursue her PhD to further her education and deepen her understanding of structural barriers for marginalized communities, aiming to educate others to move toward a more compassionate society.

Staff and faculty honorees at this year’s ceremony include Kindalee Pfremmer De Long (’87, MDiv ’94), professor of religion and associate dean of Seaver College, who will receive the Distinction in Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Faculty Award, and Christin Shatzer Román (’03), director of Community Engagement and Service, who will receive the Distinction in Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Staff Award.

De Long holds a PhD in Christianity and Judaism in antiquity from the University of Notre Dame and a master of divinity and bachelor’s degree in English from Pepperdine University. One important area of her administrative work is diversity, fairness, inclusion, and belonging. She coordinates a passionate, dedicated team of faculty and staff in diversity-related efforts that include Seaver College Diversity and Belonging Council; the Faculty of Color group; programs to support success and leadership among students who are first generation and from low-income backgrounds (First Wave and the Summer Bridge to College Leadership Program); faculty development programs (SEED, CTE); the Equity and Social Justice student fellowship program; and course and scholarship grants. For the last three years, during the Year2 San Francisco trip, she has led a student group on a visit to Alcatraz to learn about the American Indian movement of the 1960s and contemporary Native American leadership.

Shatzer Román obtained her doctoral degree in education from Vanderbilt University and bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pepperdine. She returned to Pepperdine to serve as the University’s director of community engagement and service in 2021. With almost 20 years of experience, Shatzer Román is responsible for supporting and developing co-curricular service opportunities, such as Step Forward Day, the University-wide day of service that brings hundreds of Pepperdine community members together each September to serve 30 nonprofit organizations. Her work also includes creating and sustaining long-term campus-community partnerships with organizations, including the Malibu Labor Exchange, Hand in Hand, and Manna Conejo Food Bank, to name a few. Guided by her belief that community work is denoted by interdependence and consideration of collective strengths, Shatzer Román strives for her work to focus on mutual benefit for all parties in a partnership. She is also a faculty member in Pepperdine’s Social Action and Justice Colloquium.