“I’ve had people care for me when I’m in tears. Hearing people tell me I’m special––‘You’re important; we love you; you have a special place in my heart.’ From peers, I don’t think I’ve ever heard those words, or anything like them.”
Abigail Gunning’s hands gesticulated with elation and her eyes were bright with joy as she reminisced about her first semester at The Master’s University.
“I never even expected to go to college.” Gunning said, sterling silver earrings swinging as she shook her head in amazement. Now a student at Master’s, she can look back and said she sees a consistent pattern of God’s guidance in her life.
As an only child, Gunning grew up spending much time with her parents. Gunning’s mother legally became her tutor in Pennsylvania and began to homeschool her from sixth grade through the end of high school. Each summer, her dad––“Papa”–– gave her a summer challenge to complete, such as listening to all of John MacArthur’s sermons on Genesis. Though she’s been at Master’s for nearly a semester, Gunning’s relationship with her parents has remained steadfast.
When mid-November comes, The Master’s College men look forward to their annual Men’s Camping Trip. Promotion across campus includes setting up a campfire outside the cafeteria: the smoky scent drawing men to sign up for a weekend in the woods. Annual events on the trip include cooking over an open fire, hatchet throwing contests and sleeping under the stars.
As the stories from the men’s trip circulate, women on TMC’s campus wonder about the possibility of beginning a women’s camping trip.
From Smith Smoothies to the recently launched Hotchstitch, the entrepreneurial spirit runs high at The Master’s College. Students are becoming increasingly creative and successful at meeting the needs of their peers. Most recently, Fall Thing was the buzz of the campus, and freshman communication major, Jenna Lui, found a way to bring in clients for her new sewing company, Hotchstitch.
“Hotchstitch is a sewing company that I started in September. I think it was the week after WOW [Week of Welcome] week,” says Lui. “I saw that there was a need for sewing and for someone to fix things within Hotchkiss at least. I figured I have my sewing machine, so I might as well fulfill that need and make a few bucks off of it if I can.”
The smell of baby back ribs welcomed The Master’s College students as they entered Oak Manor on a Friday afternoon. Hosted by the Off Campus staff, the BBQ Dinner offered an afternoon of fun and fellowship.
Immediately after work, Steve Ross rushed to Oak Manor, fired up the grill, and began barbequing on the patio. He worked alongside TMC junior Cari Logston, who decorated cupcakes.
In previous years, the off-campus leadership team was larger, allowing for greater planning and executing of events. This year, the team consists only of Ross, the resident director of commuter life and Logston, the off-campus commuter assistant. Several weeks before the event, the two brainstormed ideas for a large semester event. They settled on the BBQ Dinner.
This was the first off-campus event of the semester. Although difficult to execute with only two team members, student volunteers like off-campus junior Jessica Alamilla are a great help.
Oak Manor and Ross’ apartment have been inviting places for TMC students. Around 4 p.m, Ross, Ross’ family, Logston, and Alamilla greeted the students as they witnessed a patio full of food.
Ross’ ribs were the affair of the night. His son, Justus Ross echoed this feeling.
“Those ribs were gone super-fast. I didn’t even get to have my last one,” he said.
The afternoon consisted of food and music for students who lived on and on campus. It gave them a chance to catch up with friends and to get to know new people. Living off-campus presents TMC commuters with the tough problem of getting involved. On a typical Tuesday, immediately following work, Alamilla scrambles to school. After classes, she heads home to finish her homework.
This atmosphere is exactly what the students needed.
“This is so fun. It’s nice to see people outside of campus. I love just seeing everyone out of the pressure of school,” Alamilla said.
Logston shared Alamilla’s enthusiasm.
“I was really excited for the BBQ. I just wanted to be able to get as many commuters out as possible, usually because many of them do have commitments. I wanted to reach out to the smaller number and give them a chance to make friends,” Logston said.
The BBQ Dinner fulfilled this need.
“It was a desire to get everyone you don’t usually see, together,” Ross said.
Next year, the leadership team will expand to include seven new members. Chosen by Ross, these individuals parallel Logston’s and Alamilla’s aspiration to see a greater execution of similar events. This passionate team will be ready to manage the 250 off-campus students.
The annual talent show at The Master’s College brought over 600 students together in Bross Gymnasium for a night of laughter and fellowship.
The Monty’s, previously known as Spring Sing, started as a small event about 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into one of the largest events on campus.
“The Monty’s…has been a longstanding tradition at TMC,” said Pete Bargas, associate dean of student life. “It’s another opportunity for us to collectively relax, laugh at ourselves, and acknowledge that there is much unrecognized talent among us.”
The night consisted of 11 musical acts, broken up by comments from Dylan Grimes, Christopher Sue and Steve Ross, this year’s panel of judges. Haley Veilleux and Ryan Bennett hosted the event, creating an upbeat atmosphere that mimicked an awards show.
Students participated by texting their votes for the best act at the end of the night. First, second and third place acts received cash prizes.
Josiah Owinyo, Mike Jackson, Daniel Nakamura, Stevie Noch, Zach Wullbrandt, Michael O’Brien, Andrew Bush, Sam Hebert and Ben Emberley made up an a cappella group that took home the $300 prize for first place.
The group performed an eight-minute Disney medley, complete with choreography and costumes, which kept the audience laughing and singing along.
“It was fun because we kept having faculty and students coming up to us afterwards and telling us how much they enjoyed our act,” Owinyo said. “I think the Monty’s give people the chance to be known. There are people who have legitimate talent and haven’t had the opportunity to connect with a lot of people.”
Students in attendance echoed Owinyo’s sentiment.
“It brings the campus together. The whole TMC community comes out, so it’s a good opportunity to meet people,” said junior Stephanie Ott.
Timothy Caballero, chairman of the event, credits the Monty’s success to the unity of the campus. His goal was to bring the school together, regardless of dorms and majors, for a night of fun.
“It’s different than a typical Friday night,” said Caballero. “Students don’t have to spend any money or plan in advance. They just show up to make easy memories with their friends.”
In the future, the leadership team hopes to see a greater variety of acts participate in the event.
The smell of popcorn begged TMC students to enter the C. W. Smith lounge on the night of March 17. As they walked in, they witnessed C3 Unity’s display of the semester’s S.O.A.Pbox.
Several days before, a poster in the Lower Cafeteria featured the words “CDub going up on a Tuesday.” Another poster pinned on the student board described the meaning of these words, and provided a date and time of the event. With their artistically unique detail, they provided the students with a glimpse of what it was going to be about.
As soon as the students entered the room, a mixture of dim lighting, Christian rap, and popcorn greeted them. There were many new faces, some the students had never seen. The look of curiosity was evident as many of them walked into an unfamiliar event.
Fifteen minutes before the show, TMC student Sam Hebert quietly sat down and rehearsed his lines. Meanwhile others, like senior Paul Alkhato, awaited their turn to approach the mic. As seen on the event posters days before, some students approached the C3 Unity club with a desire to perform, while Steve Ross, the club staff advisor, asked others.
Before the first performer, C3Unity President David Mendoza explained the meaning behind the acronym S.O.A.P. Coined by TMC Alum Edward Robinson, the words stand for sophistically opinionated artistically passionate. This is exactly what C3Unity desired to put on display that evening as it provided students with a medium to express their creativity through poetic verses.
Comprised of a 20 member team, C3 Unity is a multicultural club that celebrates the diversity of the body of Christ as demonstrated in Colossians 3:11. It meets every Friday at 2 p.m., to plan and coordinate events like the S.O.A.Pbox. Stationed forever with ASB, and supported by Ross, Coordinator of Multicultural Student Advancement, it laboriously strives to promote cross cultural relationships.
“C3 Unity celebrates the barrier breaking power of the gospel… It also celebrates the unity in the body of Christ with a focus on the Christian witness,” Ross said.
This club desires to get the whole school to be a part of events in which the atmosphere might be possibly unknown to many. For example, students like Alkhato, a communication major, were able to express their creativity.
“We’re trying to get new faces to come out. It’s an open club and we want everyone to join,” said C3Unity member, Sarah Hutchinson.
Snapping after each performance, and attention were required as the students munched on their nachos, and watched the first performer approach the mic. Troy Christmas began the night by speaking about the gospel in the sense of our depravity, and was followed by Simeon Washington who shared his personal testimony.
After several acts, there was an intermission, which permitted the students to socialize, eat more free food and purchase a Smiths Smoothie.
The night ended with Nick Bravo, one of the guest speakers who Ross asked to perform. God’s greatness was the focus of the event. Bravo tied it back to the talents we do possess, and the origin of those.
“We tend to worship men that exercise His power,” said Bravo.
It was lines like these that caught Brittany Anderson’s attention that night. A faithful attendee of the S.O.A.P.boxes.
“I love S.O.A.P.boxes because I don’t get to listen to them very often,” she said. “I am always blessed by [them]. I often hear people say S.O.A.P.boxes are boring…but that kinda discourages me. All you have to do is listen to the words the speakers are saying. I wish the whole school would have been here.”
Just like Anderson, C3Unity C3 desires to integrate the student body in a creative way, through its S.O.A.Pbox.
This summer, The Master’s College will be hosting athlete delegations from The Faroe Islands, Malaysia, the Philippines and El Salvador, that will be competing in the 2015 Summer Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles.
The Special Olympics are an international program designed for people with mental or physical disabilities to compete in athletics. The World Games are returning to L.A. for the first time since 1972 and will be the largest humanitarian sports event in the world this year.
Over 100 host towns surrounding L.A., including Santa Clarita, have been selected by the Special Olympics to host over 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries to help acclimate them to life in the United States.
The Master’s College was originally contacted by the Special Olympics host town program to see if it was available to house athletes. After processing the information and working out their schedule, the college committed to opening campus housing to athletes from the four countries.
TMC Director of Global Outreach, Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, is handling most of the logistics involved in hosting the athletes. She formed a Global Outreach (GO) team composed of students to serve before and during the World Games.
“Because we’ve sent a disability team the last several years it seemed like a good year for us to work with Special Olympics here,” LaGeorge says. “This was one way we could not only reach into a disability community but we could also reach into our community.”
GO leaders Chris Sue and Annie Ownbey, as well as the rest of the team, are raising funds to help cover the cost of housing the athletes. Before they arrive, the team will prepare housing for the athletes, who will stay in Hotchkiss Hall. The GO team will also do everything from packing gift bags to interacting with the athletes.
Ownbey is among those looking forward to volunteering.
“People don’t really want to volunteer because they’re afraid of working with them or how they are going to interact with them,” Ownbey says. “That’s why I love it, because it’s a way for me to love on and show them that people actually care for them and ultimately God cares for them.”
Along with other activities prepared by the City of Santa Clarita, The Master’s College will organize and host a two-hour, carnival-type event for the athletes consisting of a series of stations with a game at each one. Volunteers from the college and community will help with the stations, which will feature various activities, from a shuttle run to agility games.
The 14th edition of the Summer World Games begins on July 25 and continues through Aug. 2. During this time, the GO team will do whatever the Special Olympics staff needs help with and witness some of the competitions first hand.
“There’s no doubt there’s some good athletes and pretty competitive individuals and it really is a joy to watch them enjoy what they’re doing.” says The Master’s College Athletic Director Steve Waldeck.
Waldeck, whose youngest son plays on a local Special Olympics team, was one of the earliest supporters of the college’s involvement with the World Games athletes. His belief regarding interacting with people who have disabilities is to treat them as uniquely designed individuals.
“If we look through it with the lens that God doesn’t make mistakes and He’s created each and every one of us, He’s formed us exactly how He wanted us to be.” Waldeck says. “To treat someone with that kind of focus, [that] this person was uniquely made by God and to treat them with that love and dignity and respect is paramount to go into that situation without fear of the unknown.”
“Skipping class,” as commonly called, is a favorite activity for many students at The Master’s College. They do this sometimes for invalid reasons, maybe for a beach trip or just to sleep in. Another invalid reason, although justified by some, is to finish more urgent work that is due in another class. Other reasons for skipping would be a concert with the music department or a game with the athletic department. These, along with family emergencies and serious illnesses fall under another category entitled “excused absences.”
According to The Master’s College Academic Catalogue 2014-2015, faculty are required to give students five excused absences for three-session/week classes, four for 2-session/week classes, and 2 for one-session/week classes. Unexcused absences, also known as “skips” aren’t even mentioned. Some teachers go the extra mile and extend their grace. Professor Bob Dickson of the Communication Department allows for five excused or unexcused absences in Science Fiction Writing. Dr. Daniel Wong in Christian Theology I doesn’t have any attendance at all, but other teachers live by the book.
“My understanding is that we have a standard absence policy and it is as you would find it in my syllabus,” says Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, who teaches the Global Outreach course for students going on summer missions trips.
She continued to give her opinion on class attendance. “No class is a throwaway class,” she says. “For a student to miss that class it’s almost impossible to make up what you’ve missed, whether it be because of the content that is introduced during the class or the interaction between the professor and the other students in the class. The more that you’re gone, the harder it is for a professor to be able to assess whether or not you’ve gotten the content in the class.”
And yet, excused absences are still necessary. Dr. Paul Plew explains this, speaking from the perspective of both a classroom professor and a director of The Master’s Chorale and Collegiate Singers, both extra-curricular groups.
“It’s all part of the educational process,” he says. “[Extra-curricular activities] are also why they’re here.”
This view is not just unique to Plew. The Master’s College charges a Student Activity Fee of $210 if a student is taking six or more units to cover the cost of any activities they might be involved in. They expect students to be involved, and although most activities do not interfere with the classroom schedule, some, athletic and musical events especially, can fall at a bad time. However, there is still a way to make it work.
Dr. John Stead, TMC Vice President of Academic Affairs says, “If you come to [most faculty] prior to the event and say, ‘I’m going over here and I’m representing the college,’ and you have a quiz on Friday, most faculty would say, ‘Okay, but you need to take the quiz before you go.’ I’d say that’s pretty much the standard.”
In a perfect world, this standard would solve all of the problems. But if a student is involved in multiple groups, such as Chorale, Collegiate, and the theatre program, he may find himself skipping multiple sessions of the same night class. And since only two excused absences are allowed for a night class, the student may find himself crossing the limit without even being sick.
When asked about this issue, Stead says, “That is really tough. If you plan ahead, if you’re in this activity on a regular basis, just make sure that when you do your schedule, you do not schedule [that night class]. Basketball players do not schedule night classes on a Tuesday because they play every single Tuesday.”
Some teachers put a lot of time into note packets that explain all of their material, and a student could, if they were allowed to, probably just study the note packet and do fine on the tests. But a college education isn’t just about passing the exam. As mentioned by LaGeorge earlier, the education is also about interaction with the professor. Many students even change their majors due to professors in one department or another.
After paying $15,250 for tuition at The Master’s College, a student might think twice about spending that money on other activities during class time.
“You came to go to class, so go to class,” LaGeorge says.
A life that combines both class time and extra-curricular events is possible, but it requires serious planning.
“Your advisor should really help you work through that ahead of time,” Stead suggests.
Unfortunately, some students don’t know what activities they will be involved in when they sign up for classes. The semester will wear on and a student may realize that he can’t keep with a class’s attendance policy and still respect his extra-curricular commitments.
“At that point, you’re at the mercy of your faculty member,” Stead says.
For some students, this is just a case of bad planning where they didn’t let their professors know their commitments ahead of time. That situation is not the professor’s fault, but it is entirely on the student, especially if their extra-curricular activities made the dates clear right at the beginning of the semester.
“You’re going to have to make a choice,” Plew says.
Students and staff of The Master’s College are more than familiar with the phrase, “The Master’s Bubble.” It’s a phenomenon adequately understood and overwhelmingly disliked. But are there methods to break away from this stereotypical lifestyle? Resident Director, Hannah Johnson would say, “yes.”
Johnson enjoys cycling. It is a hobby of hers and has been for the past four years. Participating in spin-classes at a local gym, Johnson began to develop the taste for cycling in 2010, when she enjoyed the exercise, but saw it as a dangerous sport to attempt outside of the gym’s closed walls. Five years later and Johnson has been cycling outside of those walls for nearly four and continues to love the sport in newfound ways, achieve new goals and go from strength to strength in her athletic ability.
Johnson has spent the majority of her outdoor cycling life in her home of Sacramento, Calif.
“The area where I am from … is such a bike friendly community with lots of bike trails, most of the roads having bike lanes and cars are very familiar with cyclists being on the roads,” Johnson says. “I felt very safe and I felt comfortable riding there.”
However, after moving to Santa Clarita in the fall of 2013, Johnson wondered if she would be able to continue riding. There are few bike lanes on the Santa Clarita roads, and the bike trails don’t offer as much variety as back home.
“Last year I ended up just setting my bike up on a trainer which is a stand you put your bike on indoors to ride,” Johnson says. “I would just do that because I’d get a better workout and I wasn’t getting run over by cars.”
Johnson still managed to continue being relatively consistent in her riding even while training indoors, but then during her time home this past summer she was able to ride a lot.
“I felt really refreshed and realized how much I loved and missed it and how much I loved being outside and being on the road,” she says. “I decided when I moved back to Santa Clarita, fall semester, I didn’t want to lose that again. I wanted to maintain cycling. I wanted to cycle outdoors and I wanted to get involved in the cycling community in Santa Clarita, both to get into riding as well as just to build relationships with non-believers, as an opportunity to evangelize. I began praying about that at the end of summer, 2014.”
Johnson admits that cycling can be a “snobby sport” and it can be difficult to get into its communities. But, not only has Johnson been able to lodge herself into this community, she has also met new goals and exceed her best rides in both length as well as climbing. Meeting local cyclists in a coffee shop got her heading in the right direction as they introduced her to “the bike trails and good routes to ride on the roads, they even provided opportunity to ride with groups and with individuals.”
Johnson has found this a unique way to get to know people in the community.
You can just have really great conversations when you are out on the road on a bike,” she says. “That’s a big part of what I enjoy about it … I’ve met some really nice people. I have even gotten to share the gospel, and have had some good conversations with a number of people. I am trying to get into some regular group rides so that I can get to know more people.”
Tom Coussens, an experienced cyclist, active member of the SCV cycling community and friend of Johnson’s says, “You can just get on any bike and start riding… get to know some people outside the campus bubble. You get to meet a lot of folks from all walks of life who share a common interest… most are unsaved, so it’s a vast mission field as well.”
He speaks highly of the vast benefits of cycling concluding that, below the very elite levels, it is a very achievable sport for student budgets.
Allie Lawson, a good friend of Johnson’s from Sacramento, completed a five week, 3,000-mile ride across the United States during the summer of 2012, and refers to this experience as “magical and life changing.” Lawson played a large part in Johnson’s decision to get into road cycling.
“When Hannah got her bike it was so exciting to have a girl to ride with,” she says. “It’s been so fun to see her go from strongly disliking hills to crushing them.”
Lawson names cycling as “a most excellent sport,” recommending its every facet from “racing, to across country, to just commuting… it’s all good for your body.” She sees the sport in its more individual light and shares that options unique benefits which include 45 minutes of uninterrupted prayer time every morning and evening as she commutes to and from work. With a busy life now days this is the main cycling she is able to fit in.
Both Lawson and Coussens recommend this sport to students as a viable and enjoyable option regardless of your current skill or fitness. They are also both pleased with Johnson’s progression as a cyclist in her own right.
Last semester, Johnson participated in the “Bike MS” ride from Santa Monica to Ventura. This ride was 60 miles in length, and was ridden by teams each who had raised money for this Multiple Sclerosis foundation.
“That ride was special to me because my aunt has MS and so getting to participate in a fundraiser for MS was a cool opportunity. It actually meant a lot to my aunt and to other family that I did it,” Johnson says.
After completing the 60-mile “Bike MS” ride, Johnson and another rider were game to add another 30 miles to their total.
“I rode 90 miles that day which was my longest ride, but [there wasn’t] a lot of climbing, so [it was] pretty easy but a lot of fun,” Johnson says.
Johnson’s latest goal is to ride a century, which is 100 miles.
“Maybe over Christmas break. There is also an organized one above Santa Barbara in March, which sounds really fun,” she says.
Luke Bugbee started in a place similar to that of many little boys: building forts and using his imagination to create play worlds. Many of Bugbee’s actions came from the desire to do everything better than his older brothers.
He was the youngest of four so he thought he had a lot to prove. When his brother drew a shoe for an art project in middle school, Bugbee drew a shoe too, a shoe good enough to make it into the middle school display case even though he was no older than eight.
These small attempts were only the beginnings of a journey that would combine his art talent with his creativity to give him a bright future.
Bugbee is a junior at The Master’s College, but he has already produced many commissioned art pieces, specifically quillings.
Quilling is the art of rolling little pieces of paper and gluing them upright onto a board. His commissions include a piece for John MacArthur, “The Lion and the Lamb”, and another the Lululemon Athletica store in San Jose, Calif. He also did a quilling of the crest of The Master’s College that hangs in the newly remodeled MacArthur Center.
In 2000, on the eve of Bugbee’s seventh birthday, his family moved to the Philippines as missionaries. His parents worked at Faith Academy in Manilla, and Bugbee attended the school from second grade all the way through to graduation. The Philippines proved to be a goldmine for his artistic inspiration.
“I’m inspired most by nature and travelling,” Bugbee said. “The Philippines is like paradise with white sand beaches and big caves and crystal clear blue water. God is the creator and he has created everything beautiful. . . . Ultimately I see my own art as me mimicking God’s role as creator.”
Bugbee had never planned to be a professional artist so when Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, director of The Master’s College Global Outreach, approached him about displaying his art in a case for TMC, he had to make five pieces in only a week. This was the first time he displayed a quilling, only the second quilling he had ever made. A commission for another quilling came as a result of that art display and so began his side career as an artist.
“Lisa can be credited with starting me since I got my first commission from that piece I did for her. Ever since then it has been a steady stream of commissions,” Bugbee said.
Chuck Rush, Resident Director of Waldock Hall, where Bugbee lives, was also instrumental. “Chuck was really encouraging to me. He gave me an art studio in the dorm several years in a row. It was no doing of my own, it was just providence and people loving me and supporting me,” he added.
When people from his old school in the Philippines see Bugbee now, they are inspired by his accomplishments. Juliette Green, who attended Faith Academy with Bugbee is now engaged to be married to him after a six-and-a-half year dating relationship. When speaking of Bugbee’s friends at Faith Academy she said, “They see someone who didn’t start out amazing. He was talented and gifted but he had to work to develop it. They are inspired to see someone do what he loves and to follow a dream.”
He has been inspiring to his friends at The Master’s College too. Chevy Gilliam, an RA in Slight, says this about his friend, “[Bugbee] is a great example to me of someone who is in awe of God and in love with his girlfriend. The longest relationship I’ve ever seen my mom in was a three-year relationship. Seeing Luke still fully in love with Juliette was a real encouragement to me and an example to me.”
Bugbee has traveled around the Philippines and United States, and also to Austria and Israel with The Master’s College IBEX program. These travels have inspired many art pieces, including a series of watercolors focused around the different locations he has visited.
In Israel at Masada, a fortress built by Herod the Great, Bugbee and Gilliam snuck out of the hostel and hiked up to Masada at night, the gentle wind and clear sky perfect conditions for a hike.
“The stars were glistening overhead and they reflected off the Dead Sea,” Bugbee said. “I wish with everything within me that I could paint it the way I saw it. There’s no way that I could.”
Bugbee’s life has been adventurous so far, but his journey is not over. His plans for the future are pretty straightforward: he will keep working for OpenGov.com, the company that currently employs him. He is a graphic designer for this company and designs their logos. He hopes to build his own art portfolio on the side.
“If I do my own piece I can do the most elaborate and huge pieces that my imagination can come up with . . . pieces that aren’t constrained to other people’s desires for their art piece. If it turns out that my time is paying off better doing artwork [than working for OpenGov] then I can switch over,” he said.
It may not take that long for Bugbee to reach this point. In his freshman year he came into school with thirty dollars in the bank and finished the year with ten thousand just from his artwork.
His artwork is opening doors and he is walking through them.