Santa Monica is the GOAT

Life

Alysha Tsuji

I wrote the following for the student-produced 2015 Pepperdine Housing Guide. Traditionally, the articles within it haven’t made their way online, so I thought I’d share it here.

I’m going to start with the obvious: Malibu is not a college town. Malibu is the antithesis of a college town. It is isolated, it is quiet, it despises chain store establishments.

Pepperdine, as you all know, is in Malibu. I chose to live on campus for the majority of my time as a student. I spent my freshman year in Hayes House, my sophomore year abroad in the London house, my junior year in Lovernich and part of my senior year in Drescher.

I moved off campus to Santa Monica in the middle of senior year. I thought it would be horrible. The idea seemed scary at first. However, what I learned is that change happens, change is inevitable and change is awesome.

Santa Monica changed my life.

Leaving campus was like a breath of fresh air — the cleanest, freshest air. Malibu had slowly started to suffocate me. Sure, there were perks to living on campus. It’s cool to see Gerard Butler at the Starbucks down the street and to be a 10-minute walk away from classes. But moving brought me a pleasantly surprising sense of peace.

The people of Santa Monica are quirky in a charming way (especially the people at the Starbucks on Wilshire), everything is in walking distance and, if you split apartment costs, the rent is affordable (when put in direct comparison with Pepperdine housing charges). Plus, out here I can’t get expelled for having an unopened bottle of wine in my fridge.

Late Nights

The only asterisk to the overwhelmingly long list of pros is the drive. Although, it’s not as bad as it seems. I’ve yet to run into more than 20 to 30 minutes of light traffic. The one exception was Jan. 15 when men’s basketball played Gonzaga. I sat on PCH for 1.5 hours to make it to Firestone in time for tip-off, but that was an anomaly. After the game, ESPN reported that Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said about the traffic jam, “I’ve done this 26 times and I’ve never seen anything like that.”

PCH is amiable most of the time if you give it a chance.

Now you may be wondering who I’m living with, how I went about finding an apartment way out in the mysterious lands of Santa Monica in the middle of the year and whether or not I’ll have to keep my lease for 12 months.

My move happened to be unexpected, so I’m living solo in a studio (I didn’t have time to find roommates). Finding the studio simply required a strong sense of urgency and a little bit of Googling. As far as the lease, I managed to score a shortened 5-month lease for a 12-month price on a special holiday deal.

The act of suddenly shifting cities wasn’t particularly fun, though. The abrupt change of location was stressful (it involved me sleeping on an L-shaped couch for a month), but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If you’re contemplating living situation plans for the next school year, just know that Pepperdine housing, Villa Malibu, Malibu Villa, the Stinkies and other Malibu-localized accommodations aren’t your only options.

Soak in the college experience and create bonds with your classmates, yet don’t fear stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing freedom.

Pepperdine Happy Feet cleanses soles with purpose

Life, Pepperdine
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Senior Andrew Enslen holding up a receipt after he went shopping for supplies for the Happy Feet Clinic in August 2013. (Photo by Miles Miller)

Freezing in the pouring rain, sopping wet in a dress shirt, amongst a group of strangers in Downtown LA, senior Andrew Enslen found himself in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation. It was his second time volunteering with UCLA’s Program in Medical Education’s Happy Feet Clinic.

UCLA PRIME is a five-year MD and masters program. In 2008, 17 PRIME students founded the Happy Feet Clinic “to address the podiatric concerns of the Los Angeles homeless community,” according to the UCLA Happy Feet website.

On that day in February 2012, Enslen recalled how all of their tents had broken, leaving everyone exposed to the elements.

The volunteers and the homeless people “were just laughing because it sucked so bad,” Enslen said. “I had this great feeling that this is what service is all about. We’re not meant to be comfortable, we’re meant to be a little cold and it just felt so right.”

Enlsen confessed that at first the experience of washing peoples’ feet felt awkward, especially in their wet and dreary state. However, in the midst of the awkwardness, Enslen said he remembered “feeling so close to them because we were so miserable.”

In that moment,  a strong conviction came over him, sparking the inspiration for the founding of his nonprofit organization: Pepperdine Happy Feet Clinic Inc.

“I remember I had a moment where I said, ‘This is the kind of service that God asked of us,’” Enslen said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, why don’t we do that [start a nonprofit]? I have everything set up. I go to S.O.S. (Standing on Stone Ministries — a local Malibu nonprofit that feeds the homeless), I know there’s a ton of people there every single week. What is stopping us from doing that? Nothing. There’s nothing stopping us.’”

“God dropped and swapped for me”

At this point, Enslen was a sophomore juggling sports med classes while battling for a spot on the men’s tennis team.

In high school, he “won a few state championships” playing tennis, yet said he had a tough time adjusting to the high level that Pepperdine tennis competed at (that year men’s tennis made runs to the NCAA championships in singles and doubles).

Enslen knew it’d be impossible to simultaneously train with the tennis team and take on the task of founding a nonprofit.

“God just dropped and swapped for me. I prayed about it. ‘Lord is this going to take a lot of time? Should I quit tennis?’” Enslen said. “I didn’t obviously hear anything but he said, ‘Yeah I want you to do this.’”

That summer in 2012, Enslen approached then roommate, senior Trevor Cavender, and asked if Cavender had interest in helping launch Pepperdine Happy Feet Inc., which would provide podiatric care for the homeless. Similar to the UCLA Happy Feet Clinic, but with a Christian focus and centralized in Malibu.

“It was one of those things that sounds great in theory, and you’re just never sure if it’s going to fall through, especially when two people are busy with their own things,” Cavender said. “We both kept each other accountable, and we got enough support initially to inspire us to move forward.

“That’s how it got started, just in an apartment room.”

Through the 2012-13 school year, Enslen and Cavender rallied up 12-15 volunteers and held clinics during certain S.O.S. meeting dates, on Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. at Webster Elementary School.

“They’re inside serving food and we’re outside washing and giving out clothes and medical supplies,” Enslen said. Enslen and Cavender consistently coordinated with S.O.S., and vice versa. Concerning the relationship, Cavender noted that S.O.S. “really helped us out in pushing us forward. Their participation in this shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

PepperdineHappyFeetInfograph

This year, Pepperdine Happy Feet has yet to hold a clinic due to conflicts between S.O.S. and Webster Elementary.

At the end of January, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Standing on Stone agreed “to conclude S.O.S.’s use of Webster Elementary School” with the final day being on or before April 3, Director of Facility Use Carey Upton wrote in an email.

S.O.S. co-founder, Hollie Packman, wrote in an email that the organization “needs” to stay in Malibu because their volunteer force is based in the city. She noted in the email on Feb. 16 that they haven’t found a new location yet, but that “the leaders at Webster, the parents and the school district have been very cooperative,” and she is confident a solution will be sought.

“The community is very supportive and cares deeply for the poor … Over the years we’ve served in Malibu, many lives have been completely turned around and we look forward to more,” Packman wrote.

“Relentlessly push forward”

Although the specific location of future Pepperdine Happy Feet clinics is uncertain at the moment, the groundwork for the nonprofit has been set. And with Enslen and Cavender prepped to graduate come April 2014, they hope someone with vigor and a heart for the homeless will step forward to fill their spots.

“We’ve been working really hard to set up for someone else. I’m very much not wanting this to end this year,” Enslen said.

Cavender commented that in order to keep Pepperdine Happy Feet up and running, it’s crucial to “expect the unexpected” and be able to “relentlessly push forward because a lot of times you run into a lot of dead ends.”

While that advice may sound daunting, Enslen has already done most of the dirty work. He set up the nonprofit as a club, wrote the bylaws and even submitted a 501c3 form to the IRS in an attempt to attain tax deductibility status.

He sent the form over winter break, and said generally the IRS takes about six months to process the paperwork.

“I was really hoping it’s not just a club at Pepperdine. If there’s someone who really has a heart for it and really wants to take it far, there’s a chance it could be one of the bigger service organizations on campus,” Enslen said. “With the things we’re setting in place, you could go beyond the ICC (Inter-Club Council) and go to big corporations to get donations for shoes. That’s what I envisioned it, but it still has to be done.”

With a full heart and an engaging presence, Enslen had no issues with a lack of volunteers during the year he organized clinics, as three-year roommate senior Kevin Enstrom can attest.

“I’ve never met anyone really able to command respect so easily. People are really wanting to be a part of it [Happy Feet],” Enstrom said.

Senior Andrew Enslen, as a Happy Feet Clinic volunteer, washing a man's feet in August 2013. (Photo courtesy of Miles Miller)

Senior Andrew Enslen, as a Happy Feet Clinic volunteer, washing a man’s feet in August 2013. (Photo by Miles Miller)

“There are other things more important”

When 22-year-old Enslen’s friends and family talked about him, one common theme consistently arose: Enslen has an uncanny sense of humility.

For instance, roommate Enstrom described Enslen as being the kind of guy who would “give the shirt off his back to anyone.” Enslen’s mother, Cheryl, said that “If someone was sitting in a lunchroom by themselves, he’d leave his friend group to go sit with that person alone.”

“He just has a heart for people,” Cheryl said.

That mindset of caring for the lesser has dictated Enslen’s postgrad plans. He’s postponing med school apps, and taking a year off from education to be a program director for a homeless ministry called The Bridge back home in Ohio. He says in addition to that, he may also spend a portion of the year working in a third-world country hospital (he’s still deciding on the exact location).

The coordinator of The Bridge, Miles Miller, who runs the day-to-day operations, grew close to Enslen over this past summer and vouched for him to join the team.

“It’s rare that you have someone so gifted but also willing to humble himself and serve the low levels of society,” 22-year-old Miller said.

The Bridge only started up in January 2013 and is looking to gain momentum as the services they offer continue to expand. In one sentence, Miller described the organization’s mission being “to reach to serve the people on the fringe of society — those who are lost and forgotten.” They offer free services such as ESL training, a thrift shop, a legal clinic and an organic garden.

Cavender provided some insight as to why Enslen would choose to spend his days with the homeless rather than apply for enrollment at prestigious medical schools. He talked about how being involved with Pepperdine Happy Feet changed his outlook.

“It’s easy, especially being a science major with our eyes set on med school, it’s easy to get wrapped up in grades. ‘I have to do well in school and study all the time’ — that became our deciding factor in college,” Cavender said. “With Happy Feet, it slapped that across the face. No, there are other things that are more important.”

Enslen has taken those “other things” and brought them to the forefront of his life, front and center; and yet he was adamant in clarifying that “there’s really nothing that separates me from anyone else besides that God helped me and got me a little motivation.”

As he faces graduation in a couple short months, Enslen leaves a piece of advice for undergraduate students in search of purpose:

“If I was telling other students something — this is the cheesiest advice in the world — it would be you just need to find something that you really want and just do it.”

Senior Andrew Enslen standing in the middle of a road in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Spigos)

Senior Andrew Enslen standing in the middle of a road in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Spigos)

As published on the Graphic Online Daily.

The Pepperdine perspective: College cooking

Pepperdine

For many undergraduate students, college is their first real whiff of independence. And if it is, successfully executing small tasks such as cooking and cleaning can feel impossible.

At Pepperdine University, freshmen are required to live on-campus and purchase a 1,500-point meal plan. It makes the transition easy because having 1,500 points means the majority of freshmen eat almost every meal in the school cafeteria.

However, after students go through the deer-in-the-headlights first year phase, sophomores, juniors and seniors are given more freedom in selecting meal plan sizes. The question of, “To cook or not to cook?” comes into play.

Throughout this feature, sophomore Conor Burke; juniors Alina Ching and Yi Quin; and seniors Chase Vanderpol, Brandon Scheirman and Patrick Rear share their experiences and opinions surrounding the topic of “College Cooking.”

[Full disclosure: I have worked closely with Scheirman and Rear as fellow staff members of the Pepperdine Graphic. Currently, I am the print managing editor, Rear is the Perspectives section editor and Scheirman is a photographer.]

Do you like to cook?

While cooking at home rather than buying Caf food may be cheaper, healthier and even more enjoyable, students’ busy lives can hinder the development of their inner-chef.

Vanderpol is often busy with pre-med studies, Qin takes an abundance of night classes, Ching competes on the NCAA Division I women’s golf team and Burke is a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Rear participates as a member of the Graphic staff and the Pepperdine Debate team, and Scheirman is a photographer and serves on SGA.

While breaking out the pots and pans daily is unrealistic, the six of them said that at one point or another they have cooked meals while attending Pepperdine. That led straight into the next question.

What’s your go-to dish?

Each person brought up a variety of dishes from pizza to pancakes. Additionally, Scheirman and Rear explained that studying abroad in Germany sparked their passion for cooking.

“In Heidelberg we had a kitchen and we all often made giant feasts,” Rear said as Scheirman nodded in agreement.

Now, the two host a monthly brunch in their George Page apartment.

“There’s nothing more exciting and more fun than making a giant dinner or a giant breakfast with ten of your favorite friends,” Scheirman said.

Because Scheirman and Rear express such joy in routinely flexing their culinary skills, I then asked if they would give a mini tour of their apartment kitchen and provide tips to any college students struggling to grasp the cooking concept.

“Welcome to our apartment”: Kitchen tour and cooking tips

Something to note is that these guys didn’t become pro-chefs overnight. Both began cooking from a young age and it carried over to enhance their college experience.

Rear grew up living abroad in Austria as well as in Portland, Ore., and said he always had an interest in food.

“When I came to Pepperdine, I was dismayed I did not have a kitchen,” Rear said. “So it became a goal to get a kitchen.”

Likewise, Scheirman said he also expressed sadness upon the lack of a kitchen his freshman and junior years. He was a freshman RA his third year.

Scheirman’s love for cooking was brought about by the fact that his grandparents “had a couple of restaurants in the Portland, Ore., area.”

Even though Scheirman and Rear have extensive culinary experience stemming from childhood, they encourage everyone to join in on the fun — as Rear stated at the end of the above clip:

“Just do it. Don’t be afraid. It’s a great time to bring friends together and bond and have fun. And you get good food out of it in the end.”

Snapshot: Sports Abroad

Life, Sports

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I took this photo in Dec. 2012 when I was in Paris with my family over winter break. It was the time period in which I had just completed my summer and fall terms in London, and I was about to enter my final spring term abroad. While participating in the Pepperdine international programs I was able to play pick-up basketball with local London kids, play pick-up touch rugby in Hyde Park, see a national rugby match, watch an English football match and attend the Nike World Basketball Festival. Experiencing such a variety of sports outside of America made for incredible memories.

Walt and MJ rule their games

Sports, Television

Call it a beau geste.

Since Sunday, I’ve read dozens of Breaking Bad reviews, a handful of them creating parallels to the sports world. Dave Zirin of “The Nation” thoroughly and brilliantly compared Walter White to Lance Armstrong.

My NBA-minded perspective is a drop in the bucket. It’s a somewhat empty gesture in terms of the weight it holds, but a gesture nonetheless to a legendary television series.

Drug kingpin Walter White grew into an untouchable, invincible, god-like character. He floated above everyone else, sending Neo-Nazi hit men to solve his problems for him. He doesn’t sound like the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with, yet at the same time you still revere Mr. White, regardless of the sketchiness morality-wise.

Out of the crop of NBA players past and present, to represent Walt I chose the greatest to ever play the game (not LeBron James, not Kobe Bryant): Michael Jordan.

Like Walter White, MJ earned his way to the top. As Walt evolved into an intimidating meth cook from a high school chemistry teacher, MJ evolved into the G.O.A.T. of the NBA after being knocked to the lowly JV squad his sophomore year of high school.

Walt forever glared at Elliot Schwartz, who essentially stole his multi-million dollar idea in Grey Matter industries. MJ envied the sophomore rival who took his Varsity team spot.

Then, there are the branding similarities. Michael Jordan developed the undying Jordan line, as Walter White developed his signature pure blue meth.

Both of them even had sidekicks who served as their shadows. Scottie Pippen backed MJ, and Jesse Pinkman did the same for Walt. Both Pippen and Pinkman kick ass toward the end. But unfortunately for Pippen, it hurt his image as he barely escaped charges for allegedly pushing a man in a Malibu restaurant fight in August, leaving the man unconscious. For Jesse, it was in light of a sweet revenge as he laid a beat down on Todd Alquist.

Jordan and White were clever and calculated in their movements. Post-retirement, MJ admitted he would take shots at players when he knew the refs weren’t looking. As for Walt, he managed to sneak around behind his DEA officer brother-in-law’s back for ages.

Now step back and appreciate the hero-to-villain plot lines that make up their lives. Neither of them rounded out their careers loved by all, and their arrogance tainted their personas (see MJ hall of fame speech and how many victims Walt terrorized).

Despite the flaws and imperfections, Walt and MJ are cemented as bona fide legends in their respective games. Everyone dons the classic Bulls apparel as a nod to MJ, and as for Walt, have you seen how many people walk around in Heisenberg shirts?

As sports fans still thrive off reliving Jordan’s epic moments, I’d like to think T.V. fans will be sitting on the edge of their seats replaying Breaking Bad episodes in 20 years.

As published in the Pepperdine University student publication, the Graphic.

Note: “kick ass” was edited to “kick butt” for print publication — the Graphic stays classy