Derry Connolly & Rocio Fuentes in Graduation

Letter from the President

Derry Connolly

Dear Friends,

As JPCatholic approaches our 20-year anniversary, I reflect in awe at all the ways the Lord has richly blessed us. And today, as I look at our University community—our students, faculty, alumni, and friends—I believe JPCatholic has never been more strongly positioned to impact culture for Christ.

This year has been momentous for JPCatholic in many ways. Two years ago, Prof. George Simon came to me with a vision for annually producing feature films as part of our curriculum. This summer, his ambitious dream was realized with the production of O, Brawling Love! The film will be distributed in 2023, and in the meantime our faculty are close to selecting next year’s project from a pool of strong student and alumni pitches.

Prof. Max Hulburt has crafted a compelling new degree program to strengthen and synergize our arts emphases: our BFA in Visual Arts will launch in Fall 2023. Max has also kept JPCatholic at the cutting edge of entertainment technology, training students in virtual production and motion capture techniques—which creates new synergies across our animation, film, and acting programs.

Prof. Joe Connolly recently took up the role of Business chair, replacing Jerry Jackson, who retired as one of our longest serving faculty members. His revamping of our Business LaunchPad will incentivize our student entrepreneurs with new pitch competitions to provide seed and growth funding.

Our Humanities chair, Steve Kramp, is absolutely beloved by students. In addition to his work fine-tuning our curriculum in theology and creative writing, he has spearheaded a successful overhaul of our core curriculum to better equip our students in their formation and intellectual growth as they train to become creators, innovators, and leaders.

Perhaps the biggest announcement—and one I am overjoyed to share—is that the renovation of our Creative Arts Academic Complex will begin in 2023, with an expected completion date in late 2023. We also purchased our 5th building, which houses our administration. I sincerely thank all of our benefactors for enabling us to take these crucial steps forward in campus expansion, empowering us to serve our growing student body (which is currently the highest it’s ever been, at 303).This was all done with JPCatholic operating financially in the black for our 17th straight year.

This short letter only scratches the surface of our blessings. My chats with students, alumni, and parents often bring delightful news of weddings, children, jobs and internships—praise God. The people of JPCatholic are what makes this place so special, and I am pleased to count you among our community of friends and supporters.

Please keep all of us in your prayers, as you will be in ours. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Sincerely,
Derry Connolly, PhD

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW & UPDATES

BFA DEGREE IN VISUAL ARTS

Starting Fall 2023

Academic Program Wheel

John Paul the Great Catholic University is pleased to announce the addition of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The BFA in Visual Arts degree will be the new home for our existing emphases in Animation, Game Development, Graphic Design, and Illustration.

The Animation, Game Development, and Graphic Design emphases currently exist within the BS in Communications Media, while the Illustration emphasis exists within the BA in Humanities.

“The main idea for launching this new degree program is to consolidate these robust emphases under a more appropriate degree umbrella,” said Prof. Max Hulburt, Chair of Visual Arts. “Repositioning them in this new degree setting will foster their development, allow us to add more relevant visual arts courses, and accelerate their future growth.”

In this migration, much of the existing curriculum within these four emphases will remain intact, but the new structure provides the ability to offer a more relevant core set of classes specifically crafted for visual artists, and also enables a more intensive senior project experience and portfolio review process. It will also make it easier for students to pursue double emphases within these four programs.

“This BFA also creates a solid academic platform for the exploration of other art production areas in the future including concept art, painting, sculpting, production design, sequential art, and more,” said Hulburt.

The change will apply to students beginning at JPCatholic in Fall Quarter 2023 or later. However, students from the relevant emphases who enter JPCatholic between now and then will have the option to transfer to the BFA when it launches in 2023.

“Adding a BFA has been on JPCatholic’s academic roadmap for a number of years,” said President Derry Connolly. “I am thrilled with this compelling program that Prof. Hulburt has crafted. I expect it will be very well received by our students and will be a tentpole program for the University. Praise God.”

Recognized by U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Out of 102 schools in Regional College West
19th Best Regional Colleges West Award
9th Best Value Award
14th Social Mobility Award

Cinematic Arts

The Feature Film Program launches with “O, Brawling Love!”

Over 50 students and alumni participated in the production of the film.

The Feature Film Program launches with

“O, Brawling Love!”

Over 50 students and alumni participated in the production of the film.

Maggie Mahrt Directs a Scene
The Crew Wraps Production

O, Brawling Love!, the first project in John Paul the Great Catholic University’s Feature Film Program, completed production in June. The film was shot primarily in Escondido, using locations such as Escondido Charter High School, Grape Day Park, various homes, and the university’s soundstage. Over fifty students of various majors, along with several alumni, were involved both on and off set.

Prof. George Simon, Chair of Communications Media, is spearheading our Feature Film Program. He announced the initiative last year as a way to integrate feature film productions into the curriculum, providing students the opportunity to collaborate with alumni and professors each year in bringing a new film to life. “This program is made possible by the talent, creativity, and passion of our students,” he said. “Every day on set, these filmmakers set a standard of excellence and professionalism that is truly remarkable. We all knew it was possible to pull off a feature film with our students, but they didn’t just pull it off, they knocked it out of the park.”

Maggie Mahrt and Katie Gerlach

Director Maggie Mahrt (left) and 1st AD Katie Gerlach (right) review a shot on set

JPCatholic’s faculty selected O, Brawling Love! from a pool of nearly fifty student and alumni pitches. An original story by senior screenwriting student Bella Lake, the script is about two rival acting students who are forced to reconcile their differences and play lovers Romeo and Juliet in their final school play, vying for a $25k cash prize.

The film was directed by JPCatholic alumna Maggie Mahrt (‘10), whose resume includes work for Disney Digital, Paramount Studio, and NBC. In 2016 she was selected as one of eight women for the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, through which she wrote and directed the award winning short film Unbound.

For several quarters, students and faculty advanced the film with courses on story development and pre-production applied directly to planning the project. Production spanned June 2nd–28th, taking place primarily during the break between Spring and Summer quarter.

Senior film student Katie Gerlach served as 1st Assistant Director on the film. She said, “Between creating schedules, location scouting, and making endless spreadsheets and documents in pre-production, to being one of the first people on set each morning and one of the last to leave at night, this set has been absolutely exhausting - but in the best way possible. O, Brawling Love! has not only reminded me why I want to be a filmmaker, but it has helped me to become better at my craft.”

Maggie Mahrt Directs a Scene

Maggie Mahrt directs a scene in JPCatholic’s Soundstage

Several students also acted in the project, including senior acting student John Howard who was cast as the male lead. He participated in the blind audition process with Mahrt, and was selected from a pool of over 50 candidates from both inside and outside JPCatholic. “Starring in a feature film was a big step up from acting in short films,” he said. “The opportunity for deep character development as well as working with a top-notch director and crew really made me feel as if I could perform to the absolute maximum of my ability. It was a welcome and rewarding challenge.”

After production completed, Prof. Melinda Simon led a team of students in editing the project, and Prof. Jeff Deverett is now guiding the students through the distribution and marketing process for a hopeful 2023 release. Like previous stages of the film, these were classes students took for credit.

In the meantime, the 2023 feature film project is already in development. In October, we hosted our second annual Pitch Night to narrow down the selections for next year, and selection of next year’s project is anticipated by the end of November.

The Crew Wraps Production

The crew celebrates wrapping the production

Bella Lake

“I’m living in a dream knowing I’ll graduate being a produced screenwriter.”

Bella Lake (‘22)
Screenwriter of O, Brawling Love!

What Remains Scene

Prof. Scoggins' Film

"WHAT REMAINS" PREMIERES AT AUSTIN FILM FESIVAL

What Remains, a feature film written and directed by Prof. Nathan Scoggins, premiered at the Austin Film Festival in October. The murder mystery, set and shot in northern Texas, was produced by Ralph Winter (X-Men), with executive producers Korey Scott Pollard (Chicago Fire) and Sean Doherty, CEO of Sharpened Iron Studios which co-financed the project. As reported by Variety, the film stars Cress Williams (Black Lightning, Never Been Kissed) as a small town pastor “who is forced to contend with an act of forgiveness when the convict he forgave for murdering his wife returns to town five years later.” Meanwhile, the late Anne Heche (Six Days Seven Nights, Volcano) stars as a sheriff investigating another murder which may be related. After actress Heche’s tragic death in August, What Remains is one of her final films to premiere posthumously.

Production took place over five weeks last September and October in Amarillo, TX. A total of 17 JPCatholic alumni and four current students served in various roles on set, representing over a quarter of the film’s crew.

Scoggins has been a Professor of Film at JPCatholic since 2008, where he also served as Producer for the university produced feature film Red Line (2013). Scoggins’ previous credits for writing and directing include The Least of These (starring Isaiah Washington) and The Perfect Summer (starring Eric Roberts).

“I made What Remains from the heart,” said Scoggins. “Not just the writing but the shooting too. Being able to include students and alumni was an opportunity to make this movie the way I’ve dreamed—with focus, determination, kindness and commitment. I’m so proud of so many of the young filmmakers I’ve mentored over the years, grateful for the way they stepped up to the plate and delivered every day, and excited to celebrate this milestone.”

After the festival, the film sold domestic distribution rights to Gravitas Ventures, which will simultaneously release the film in theaters and streaming on December 2nd.

What Remains is now available to rent or purchase!

Watch trailer
JPCatholic Students on What Remains Set
Creative Arts Academic Complex

CAMPUS EXPANSION

RENOVATION ON CREATIVE ARTS ACADEMIC COMPLEX TO BEGIN IN 2023

We are pleased to announce that construction will begin in early 2023 on the Creative Arts Academic Complex at 131 South Broadway in Escondido.

Previously the home of Johnson Furniture until its closure in 2007, the property was purchased by JPCatholic in 2016 using a generous $1.5M gift from the Caster Family Trust as well as some debt financing.

The structure will be divided into two separate buildings (Cinematic Arts and Visual Arts) connected by a courtyard, which will serve as a venue for community events, outdoor performances, and student life. This complex will expand our current academic capabilities and campus significantly, and equip our growing student body with the resources needed to create impactful art. These include a recording studio, virtual production lab, more soundstages, fine arts workshop, acting black box studio, and additional classrooms and computer labs.

Renovation on the Creative Arts Academic Complex is currently projected to finish by the end of 2023. We are sincerely grateful to all of our donors who made this possible.

“This transformative Creative Arts complex is critical to the future success of JPCatholic’s mission, for our next phase of academic excellence, and the forging of lifelong relationships with alumni. Once complete, the new Creative Arts buildings will elevate the student experience and will unlock innovative collaborations for our students across all creative disciplines.”

PROF. GEORGE SIMON

“This transformative Creative Arts complex is critical to the future success of JPCatholic’s mission, for our next phase of academic excellence, and the forging of lifelong relationships with alumni. Once complete, the new Creative Arts buildings will elevate the student experience and will unlock innovative collaborations for our students across all creative disciplines.”

PROF. GEORGE SIMON

JPCatholic Campus Map

OUR GROWING CAMPUS

Academic Building

Academic Building

155 W. Grand Ave
Purchased in 2013

Our Academic Building currently houses all of our classrooms, media labs, and soundstage.

Student Life Center

Student Life Center

200 W. Grand Ave
Purchased in 2015

This 5,600 sq. ft. building provides a space for students to gather and study, and also houses various offices on the second floor.

Creative Arts Academic Complex

Creative Arts Academic Complex

140 W. 2nd Ave. & 131 S. Broadway
Purchased in 2016

This structurally sound 30,620 sq. ft. building sits on 1.3-acres; renovation will begin in early 2023.

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel

240 S. Maple St
Purchased in 2016

We acquired this historic 10,000 sq. ft. Mediterranean Revival structure in July 2016 for $800K. We are currently fundraising to develop it into our dedicated chapel.

Administration Building

Administration Building

220 W. Grand Ave
Purchased in 2022

This year we were able to purchase this office building which we previously leased.

Latitude 33 Apartments

Latitude 33 Apartments

Washington Ave. & Escondido Blvd.
Leased

JPCatholic students live in townhome and apartment units at Latitude 33 Apartment Community, about a 0.4 mile walk from our campus in downtown Escondido.

FACULTY UPDATES

Chris Riley Book

PROF. CHRIS RILEY RELEASES NEW BOOK “THE DEFINING MOMENT”

In March, Prof. Riley released a new book The Defining Moment: How Writers and Actors Build Characters. Written with his wife and screenwriting partner Kathy Riley, the non-fiction book offers essential insights into the forces that create character, using dozens of examples of character defining moments from film, television, theater, and literature.

Learn more
Professor George and Melinda Simon

PROFS. GEORGE AND MELINDA SIMON SHOOT FEATURE FILM IN MICHIGAN

This spring, the Simons invited several alumni/students to participate in their feature film project Don’t Get Eaten, a family-friendly post-apocalyptic comedy. The indie film was written and directed by George and his brother Joe Simon. George’s wife and fellow JPCatholic faculty Melinda is producer and editor on the project. Post-production is anticipated to complete in early 2023.

Father Andy Younan Book

FR. ANDY YOUNAN PUBLISHES “ADVICE FROM ARISTOTLE”

In May, Fr. Andy Younan, PhD., published Advice from Aristotle: Life Lessons from the Nicomachean Ethics. In his signature style, Fr. Andy distills Aristotle’s wisdom on how to live a better and happier life with a quick read that is humorous and accessible while also stimulating and profound.

Learn more
Dr Shalina Stilley Book

Dr. Shalina Stilley Publishes “Paradoxes of Faith and Reason”

This spring, Dr. Shalina Stilley published Paradoxes of Faith and Reason, a book that grapples with aspects of the Catholic faith that seem to contradict reason at first glance.

Learn more

VISUAL ARTS

New Virtual Production Electives

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR A GROWING INDUSTRY

Virtual Production Thumbnail

Over the past year, Prof. Max Hulburt has added a sequence of three electives training students in cutting edge techniques for using motion capture and Unreal Game Engine in producing both CGI and live action films. Alumni have already taken positions at companies like AMGI Studios, which will use these techniques in producing a feature film for Netflix.

Intro to Virtual Production, Virtual Production II, and Visual Effects Production comprise a new sequence of electives designed for animation, film, or game development students interested in exploring this emerging industry.

“The whole concept is can we use real time rendering properties of a game engine to do real time visual effects work, or real time animation work, or real time broadcast television,” explained Hulburt. He shared how TV shows like The Mandalorian, various animated features, as well as BBC’s broadcast of the Olympics have all employed these techniques.

“Virtual production is so exciting to me, because it’s so synergistic,” said Hulburt. “I have these game students who understand how to create compelling environments, to create these beautiful worlds and make them interactive. But I also have film students who know how to shoot in these beautiful spaces and make them look compelling in films… It really pulls from so many areas of the university… and there aren’t a lot of places that are doing this to the level that we are.”

Hulburt created these courses to respond to a growing demand for these skill sets. “I actually have companies that have called saying ‘Do you have someone who can work on this?’ and so we’ve made some really strong connections in this space.”

One of those connections is AMGI Studios in Burbank, a company cofounded by Colin Brady, a visiting professor of JPCatholic. Brady’s career has included animation work at Pixar (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2), as well as live action visual effects (The Hunger Games, Hugo, The Amazing Spider-Man). Now, as Chief Creative Officer at AMGI, he is a pioneer in the growing movement towards using motion capture for animated films. AMGI’s work includes the music video for “My Universe” by Coldplay and BTS. Their next big project is a feature film with Netflix, which is in development this year.

Shortly after graduation, Sebastian Romero (‘21) and Taylor Prudencio (‘21) were both hired full-time at AMGI, where they use the skill sets they acquired in their virtual production courses at JPCatholic.

“Virtual production is so exciting to me, because it’s so synergistic,” said Hulburt. “I have these game students who understand how to create compelling environments, to create these beautiful worlds and make them interactive. But I also have film students who know how to shoot in these beautiful spaces and make them look compelling in films… It really pulls from so many areas of the university… and there aren’t a lot of places that are doing this to the level that we are.”

Hulburt created these courses to respond to a growing demand for these skill sets. “I actually have companies that have called saying ‘Do you have someone who can work on this?’ and so we’ve made some really strong connections in this space.”

Graphic Design Capstone: Working on Client Projects

This summer, Graphic Design seniors collaborated with Prof. Fernando Del Rosario’s design firm Concept Zombie and its Creative Aid project. They worked on real client projects for the Ronald McDonald House and local small business, building up their portfolio with professional design experience.

Del Rosario, who joined JPCatholic’s faculty this spring, is a seasoned marketing creative who bridges the world of advertising, design, art, and education. His roster of brands includes Hot Wheels, Taco Bell, Hyundai, Oakley, Mattel, Sony, Toyota, Lexus, and Warner Bros. He holds an MA ED in Educational Leadership and comes to JPCatholic with 20 years of teaching experience at schools like The Art Institutes and Cal State Fullerton.

VIDEO GAME SENIOR PROJECTS

This year Wayward Rose joined the growing list of games produced by Game Development seniors. Follow on Instagram @waywardrose_game

Shepherd of Light Video Game
Da Capo Video Game
Wayward Rose Video Game

ACTING

Katelyn Slater

MEET
KATELYN SLATER

Creative Director of the Acting Program

Katelyn graduated from JPCatholic’s acting program in 2017. Since graduating, she has worked closely with Prof. Eskey in developing and teaching courses at JPCatholic, while pursuing her own passion for acting. She has worked with several local theaters, including North Coast Repertory Theatre, Onstage Playhouse, Trinity Theatre Company, and Community Actor’s Theatre. Regionally, she acted in a fall touring production of Romeo and Juliet with Nebraska Shakespeare, in addition to being a teaching artist for the company. She has also been a teaching artist for Trinity Theatre and has taught acting at The Nativity School in Rancho Santa Fe. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Theatre degree at Regent University. In January 2022, she became Creative Director of JPCatholic’s Acting Program.

COULD YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR OWN JOURNEY AS AN ACTRESS?

In preparing to study acting in college, I wanted to find a university that focused on telling stories that were true to the human experience while still being integrated in a Christian world-view. JPCatholic’s acting program pushed me as an actor and simultaneously as a human being; I grew to love my humanity, and it instilled the necessity to bring every emotion and experience to Christ. Since graduating, I have continued to grow in my love for storytelling, particularly in theatre, and the power of live art.

What do you think sets JPCatholic’s acting program apart?

One strength of our program is the size of the school. I was able to get individual mentorship very easily due to the small class sizes, and professors were easy to access. There’s a strong belief in collaboration, and actors are encouraged to pursue various passion projects, scenes, or shows with like-minded peers. Lee Eskey, who founded the program, also has a beautiful way of incorporating Theology of the Body into the curriculum which is life changing.

What is your vision for the program as you step into the role of Creative Director?

There are several answers for this. I want to encourage an atmosphere where actors can bring any idea to the table. Of course, ideas may have to be tweaked, but an environment that fosters and encourages their creativity is crucial. This collaborative storytelling is especially true in rehearsals for our mainstage productions. I also want to foster continued relationships between the filmmakers and actors on campus. There are so many projects happening, and dialogue between the various roles on set creates a fun yet disciplined environment. I hope that at JPCatholic students are also able to learn the techniques associated with professional acting and deepen their skillset, so that they can confidently work on projects after graduation.

What have been the most exciting developments this year for the Acting program?

One of the biggest developments this year was collaboration between the film and acting departments on the Feature Film Program. Many of our actors auditioned for roles on O, Brawling Love! and some were called back by the director and cast in leading roles. This is a huge opportunity for their resume and experience. Another development is the Animation department’s courses on motion capture. There is a lot of potential for acting students to collaborate with them by acting in virtual productions, and it’s a great skill for actors to be able to use their imaginations when acting in a virtual world. Thirdly, I’m excited to introduce our updated theatre season, which will reserve our spring slot each year for Student Directed Productions—the chance for students to spearhead a show that they’re passionate about (possibly JPII’s the The Jeweler’s Shop this year!).

Could you elaborate on your experience with the Feature Film Program?

I served in the role of casting director for O, Brawling Love! Acting students were encouraged to audition (even if they were not cast, there’s a great skill in simply practicing the audition process). With several of our acting students landing roles on the project, it was such an amazing experience to see their hard work and dedication on set. Film is such an incredible art form in which communication and respect is essential between the various departments. In addition to many students receiving a feature film credit on IMDB, the actors were able to practice various aspects that are required on a fast-paced set including preparation, flexibility, various acting techniques in their performances, and more.

Theology of Body and Professor Lee Eskey

WHAT DOES THEOLOGY OF THE BODY HAVE TO DO WITH ACTING?

One of the most unique hallmarks of JPCatholic’s acting program is the integration of classical acting foundations with a Catholic worldview of the human person, particularly as articulated through the Christian humanism of St. John Paul II. In this video, Prof. Lee Eskey (who is currently completing requirements for certification from the Theology of the Body Institute) elaborates on why this lens is so important for Christian actors.

JPCatholic Theatre Production

2022-2023 SEASON

The Misanthrope

Fall 2022

Much Ado About Nothing

Winter 2023

Student Directed Productions

Spring 2023

The Pirates of Penzance

Summer 2023

Learn more

HUMANITIES

Bailey Garland Launches Weekly Show on JP2 Radio

In September, JPCatholic student Bailey Garland hosted the first episode of Letter to Artists, a radio show and podcast distributed through JP2 Catholic Radio. Recorded in JPCatholic’s new studio “The Vault”, the show is broadcast every Saturday at 9am, on AM 1450 in San Diego and at jp2radio.com. It is also available afterward as a podcast on Spotify.

Letter to Artists offers weekly conversations with JPCatholic students, faculty, and alumni about their creative pursuits and professions. The title is inspired by Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1999 Letter to Artists, which highlights the value that artists and other creatives bring to society. Listeners of the show can expect to hear from actors, writers, musicians, directors, illustrators, photographers, and more—discussing their craft and how they’ve encountered the Lord through these talents.

Bailey Garland

“[JPCatholic] was a place where I did not have to pick between my call as an artist and the call to be a saint. I would get spiritual formation alongside creative education.”

The show is a collaboration between John Paul the Great Catholic University and JP2 Catholic Radio, a station which began in Imperial Valley in 2015 and expanded to San Diego county last year. Raul Caro, founder of the station, began exploring a relationship with JPCatholic as the network expanded to San Diego. “I saw that offering an opportunity for students to learn and create broadcast audio, realtime, could be a win-win for the University, for our network who needs talented and passionate creators, and for the Catholic community in our area,” he said. “It became apparent that this partnership was smart, holy, and could serve as the basis to get the younger population involved in community Catholic radio.”

Shortly after, junior communications student Bailey Garland was selected to host a weekly show for the station. Bailey studied Theatre and English at Illinois State University, where she graduated in 2021. She came to JPCatholic to pursue a second bachelor’s degree, supplementing her acting background with film production and other creative arts.

“I wanted to create in pretty much every way possible—acting, costume designing, directing, writing, music,” she said. “Yet, I loved ministry–teaching, retreats, bible studies, spiritual formation, one-on-one conversations.

The desire to entwine my faith and artistic abilities was great … [JPCatholic] was a place where I did not have to pick between my call as an artist and the call to be a saint. I would get spiritual formation alongside creative education.”

Listen to the podcast here
Genevieve Pride and her NET team

Genevieve Pride (center) and her NET team

JPCatholic Launches Study Abroad Program with NET Ministries IRELAND

This year JPCatholic announced a partnership with NET Ministries Ireland, providing a unique “ministry abroad” experience for students interested in evangelization.

Through the program, students each year will have the opportunity to travel to Ireland and participate in evangelistic outreach through NET. Founded in 1981 in Minnesota, NET Ministries (“National Evangelization Teams”) sends out teams of Catholic young adults around the United States to put on retreats for high school and middle school students. NET has since expanded with sister organizations around the globe, including a program in Ireland.

Participating students will prepare with an intensive online summer course from NET, training them for the program. Depending on which team they are assigned to, they’ll participate in evangelistic outreach like parish retreats, street evangelization, and a coffee shop ministry. Their work with NET counts for credit at JPCatholic and serves as a practicum.

JPCatholic’s President Dr. Derry Connolly is originally from Ireland, and has been a board member on NET Ireland for a number of years. “I am very excited with this partnership with NET Ireland which provides the opportunity for JPCatholic students to be part of their evangelization efforts in Ireland, which desperately needs it today,” he said.

Genevieve Pride is a junior who participated in the program this year. “Coming from a big Irish Catholic family, I immediately knew I had to chase after this opportunity for NET Ireland,” she said. “I have always been very passionate about mission work. Our world today especially needs proclamation of the gospel and fire for faith and truth. It was a blessing to meet others in this mission, reach souls, and serve the Lord abroad!”

Business

New LaunchPad Model introduces

Two Pitch Competitions for Seed & Growth Funding

Business

New LaunchPad Model introduces

Two Pitch Competitions for Seed & Growth Funding

Starting in 2023, JPCatholic’s LaunchPad and Incubator programs will begin incorporating business pitch competitions, giving the chance for two rounds of funding for student and alumni ventures.

The LaunchPad program has been a long standing anchor of the University’s business program, and is required for students in the Creative Entrepreneurship emphasis. Throughout the three course sequence, students receive professional mentorship to conceive, nurture, and launch real companies.

Upon completion of the LaunchPad, students will now be eligible to participate in a new Seed Pitch. The progress made during the past nine months will be presented to a panel of judges, who will award University funds based on a venture’s merit and need. This funding will empower students to implement their ideas and launch the company. Success in the Seed Pitch is a prerequisite to enter the Incubator program, which is now a sequence of two courses. The Incubator provides a structured context for the student to nurture their business, receiving further guidance on refining and scaling their business model. Prof. Marc Burch, a veteran of Silicon Valley tech companies, will continue his role as mentor for students in the Incubator.

At the end of the Incubator courses, students (and even returning alumni) will once again present their ideas to a panel of faculty and other professionals. Successful pitches will be awarded even greater funding for their company.

Professor Joe Connolly and Students

Over the years, JPCatholic’s LaunchPad program has provided a springboard for a variety of companies, with ventures ranging from chocolate, dolls, film production, video game resales, to invoice factoring, and more. Yellow Line Digital, a marketing firm founded by students and faculty in 2012, began bringing in an annual revenue of $1 million dollars just four years later. They continue to employ alumni, and their clientele has included large diamond companies, religious liberty campaigns, and the Vatican.

“Our goal is to do everything we can to ensure student success,” said Prof. Joe Connolly, Chair of Business. “By expanding the support structure we have for entrepreneurial students and making cash available to them, we hope to have even more success stories from the LaunchPad.”

The first pitches are scheduled for September 2023 and February 2024.

The LaunchPad Timeline Chart

Learn more

Professor Mentorship

SHARE YOUR TIME & TALENT

with the next generation of Creators & Innovators

Are you interested in offering your wisdom and expertise to our students? Membership in our Visiting Fellows Program gives you the opportunity to meet on campus with students and faculty, on specific Fellows Days and throughout the year.

Learn more

Visiting Fellows Program Logo

Entrepreneur Spotlight

PAUL MASSELL & JACOB SPENCE

Paul Massell & Jacob Spence

Massell (left) and Spence (right) founded their video production company New Eve Media in 2016.

Paul Massell
New Eve Media Logo
Jacob Spence

Could you share about New Eve Media and how it started?

PM: I started New Eve Media after about 2 years of working as a freelancer full-time. I contacted Jacob because I knew he was doing video production work, and he didn’t love his job at the time. I basically pitched him on the idea that we should work together full-time building a film business. New Eve now has 7 employees and we have grown steadily every year since we started.

What kind of clients have you worked with?

PM: We’ve worked with businesses, nonprofits, universities, and dioceses all over the country. One of my favorite projects was filming a documentary in Lourdes, France for an organization called The Order of Malta. It was a life-changing experience for everyone on our team.

JS: While our clients include a wide range of both Catholic and secular organizations, the one thing many of them have in common is their desire to do mission-driven work. It’s been a blessing for us to witness that work and to help share that experience with more people through the videos we make.

What were the biggest takeaways from your education at JPCatholic?

JS: As a Communications major at JPCatholic, I learned a lot of the technical skills of filming and editing that we still utilize on every video we produce. More importantly, the foundation of Catholic theology and philosophy that we received in college has helped New Eve to find and tell impactful stories for our clients.

PM: I think one of the best aspects of the business program at JPCatholic is that it is focused on entrepreneurship, and you are taught a lot about the practical aspects of what it takes to start and run a business. There are many lessons from the classroom that I still think about on a regular basis. For example, Dr. Jackson’s Project Management course taught me to approach projects in terms of “Scope, Schedule, and Budget”, and so naturally I’ve implemented that methodology for planning all of our business’ projects.

Could you share about your connection to the students in our sales classes?

PM: One of my primary roles at New Eve is selling our services and bringing in new projects. Throughout the process of growing our business, I’ve learned a lot about sales, networking, and relationship-building. For the last two years I have taken part in the Sales Sequence led by Professor Haight. I’ve participated by sharing lessons from my work in sales, and offering an internship at my company. I had two internships when I was a student at JPCatholic, and I believe real-world experience is extremely valuable once you graduate and begin looking for a job.

What do you think are the most important ingredients for success in entrepreneurship?

JS: It’s sometimes difficult but necessary to say no to opportunities that might help your business in the short-term but aren’t helping you grow long-term. Time is our most valuable asset, so it’s been really beneficial for us to focus primarily on those projects that are within our area of expertise, and not pursue projects that aren’t right for us.

PM: I think the most important ingredient is to surround yourself with great people, including business partners, employees, and customers.

To learn more about New Eve Media visit www.neweve.com

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS

Where have JPCatholic alumni worked?

We’re incredibly proud of our hard-working alumni and their diverse accomplishments. Below is a sampling of employers our graduates have worked for or with.

Timmerie Geagea

Timmerie Geagea (‘14)

Radio Host of Trending with Timmerie at Relevant Radio

Timmerie is a pro-life advocate, Catholic speaker, and radio host. She is most well known for her show Trending with Timmerie on Relevant Radio, which has a reach of nearly 30 million people.

“We are able to speak truth in a culture of ambiguity and lies. And not only are we speaking the truth of psychology, philosophy, but we’re speaking the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when people hear that hopeful and faith filled message, it resonates with them.”

Matt and Lisa Martinusen

Matt and Lisa Martinusen (‘15)

Founders & Designers at Board Catholic

After meeting at JPCatholic and getting married, Matt and Lisa applied their entrepreneurial education and unique brand of humor to create and sell over 10k copies of The Catholic Card Game.

Fr. Simon Esshaki (‘12)

Chaldean Catholic Priest

In addition to ministering to his parish, Fr. Simon shares the faith on Tik Tok with over 500,000 followers.

Yssa Mitra

Yssa Mitra ('21)

Production Coordinator at Drive Studio

Drive Studio is a small motion graphics firm in San Diego that produces designs for large clients like FIFA World Cup, Fox Sports, and Formula One.

Jason Cuevas

Jason Cuevas ('12)

Founder & CEO at Fund Your Invoice

Jason created his company through our Business LaunchPad. After graduation, he continued to receive ongoing mentorship from Prof. Burch through our Business Incubator, and now he works full-time running his own company.

Tam Nguyen

Tam Nguyen ('21)

Associate Environment Artist at High Moon Studios

Shortly after graduation, Tam took a job at High Moon Studios where JPCatholic professor George Castro works. High Moon creates content for video game franchises like Destiny and Call of Duty.

Matthew Farrugia

Matthew Farrugia (‘18)

Assistant Editor at Marvel Studios

Matthew’s editing career has included projects for Warner Bros., a Spielberg production, and a Marvel show for Disney+.

Maggie Mahrt

Maggie Mahrt (‘10)

Film Director

After working on NBC’s TV show Grimm, and being selected for the AFI’s Director Workshop for Women, Maggie’s has directed content for brands like Disney Digital, Paramount Studio, as well as JPCatholic’s feature film O, Brawling Love!

Lucy Bruckner

Lucy Bruckner (‘12)

Supervising Producer at Rotten Tomatoes

Lucy has been with Rotten Tomatoes/NBCUniversal for 10 years, is building a podcast network for the brand, and is the lead producer on their flagship original show, Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong.

Tyler Pearson

Tyler Pearson (‘11)

Deputy Chief Risk Officer at Silvergate Bank

Silvergate Bank is a leading bank in San Diego for fintech and cryptocurrency.

Haley Rossi

Haley Rossi (‘14)

Creative Lead at Spirit Juice Studios

Spirit Juice Studios is an award-winning, Chicago-based creative production firm specializing in Catholic video content. Haley’s film assignments have taken her team to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Vatican.

Brigitta Barrows

Brigitta Barrows (‘18)

Marketing Operations Manager at The Daily Wire

After graduating with her Bachelor’s from JPCatholic, Brigitta received a Master’s in Public Policy at Pepperdine and started her job at Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire.

Douglas Cummins

Douglas Cummins (‘13)

Producer at Word on Fire

Douglas’ role involves everything from pre-production and set design to camera operation and editing for Bishop Robert Barron’s content.

Matt and Lisa Martinusen

Matt and Lisa Martinusen (‘15)

Founders & Designers at Board Catholic

After meeting at JPCatholic and getting married, Matt and Lisa applied their entrepreneurial education and unique brand of humor to create and sell over 10k copies of The Catholic Card Game.

Fr. Simon Esshaki (‘12)

Chaldean Catholic Priest

In addition to ministering to his parish, Fr. Simon shares the faith on Tik Tok with over 500,000 followers.

Yssa Mitra

Yssa Mitra ('21)

Production Coordinator at Drive Studio

Drive Studio is a small motion graphics firm in San Diego that produces designs for large clients like FIFA World Cup, Fox Sports, and Formula One.

Jason Cuevas

Jason Cuevas ('12)

Founder & CEO at Fund Your Invoice

Jason created his company through our Business LaunchPad. After graduation, he continued to receive ongoing mentorship from Prof. Burch through our Business Incubator, and now he works full-time running his own company.

Tam Nguyen

Tam Nguyen ('21)

Associate Environment Artist at High Moon Studios

Shortly after graduation, Tam took a job at High Moon Studios where JPCatholic professor George Castro works. High Moon creates content for video game franchises like Destiny and Call of Duty.

Matthew Farrugia

Matthew Farrugia (‘18)

Assistant Editor at Marvel Studios

Matthew’s editing career has included projects for Warner Bros., a Spielberg production, and a Marvel show for Disney+.

Maggie Mahrt

Maggie Mahrt (‘10)

Film Director

After working on NBC’s TV show Grimm, and being selected for the AFI’s Director Workshop for Women, Maggie’s has directed content for brands like Disney Digital, Paramount Studio, as well as JPCatholic’s feature film O, Brawling Love!

Lucy Bruckner

Lucy Bruckner (‘12)

Supervising Producer at Rotten Tomatoes

Lucy has been with Rotten Tomatoes/NBCUniversal for 10 years, is building a podcast network for the brand, and is the lead producer on their flagship original show, Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong.

Tyler Pearson

Tyler Pearson (‘11)

Chief Risk Officer at Silvergate Bank

Silvergate Bank is a leading bank in San Diego for fintech and cryptocurrency.

Haley Rossi

Haley Rossi (‘14)

Creative Lead at Spirit Juice Studios

Spirit Juice Studios is an award-winning, Chicago-based creative production firm specializing in Catholic video content. Haley’s film assignments have taken her team to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Vatican.

Brigitta Barrows

Brigitta Barrows (‘18)

Marketing Operations Manager at The Daily Wire

After graduating with her Bachelor’s from JPCatholic, Brigitta received a Master’s in Public Policy at Pepperdine and started her job at Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire.

Douglas Cummins

Douglas Cummins (‘13)

Producer at Word on Fire

Douglas’ role involves everything from pre-production and set design to camera operation and editing for Bishop Robert Barron’s content.

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Our next major fundraising project is the renovation of our St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel building. It will seat 300 and provide our community a sacred space for prayer and the sacraments.

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