Reflections of the Inaugural Class
JPCatholic News, December 9th, 2009
This fall is a special quarter for JPCatholic. The first senior class will make history by graduating on December 12th from the first Catholic University built in Southern California in the last 38 years. The seniors have played a pivotal role in JPCatholic's growth these last three years. Their example in embracing JPCatholic's mission to Impact Culture for Christ has set the tone and culture of the school for all subsequent classes.
For many of the seniors, coming to JPCatholic in the fall of 2006 was a leap of faith. Steve Marshall, a graduating senior and class Valedictorian, was so taken by the mission of the school and its unique programs that he jumped into the inaugural class a month before the start of school. "I was one of the students who attended sight unseen," Steve said. "It was a whirlwind! I thought it would be a miracle if I actually made it. It was one month between learning about it, leaving my native Missouri, and touching down in San Diego, a place I had never been before." Most of Steve's classmates had visited campus, but were undaunted by its newness. Graduating senior Chris Lane from Temecula, California reflected on his decision to come, "I always saw coming to a new school as kind of cool. What better way to get an entrepreneurial education than to be at a school that is entrepreneurial itself!"
JPCatholic's unique mission to Impact Culture for Christ through the intersection of entrepreneurial business, media, and technology was the primary motivating factor for the seniors. "I was really interested in broadening my horizons especially regarding Entertainment Media first of all," says student graduation speaker Matthew Salisbury, "and second of all getting an education that was really authentically Catholic." Matt has taken the Mission seriously, becoming the show runner for a new JPCatholic web series, a scripted reality show that focuses on three women facing crisis pregnancies to be launched on January 22nd on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Matt has found the practical skills and faith formation he needed to deliver on his dream of bringing mainstream audiences closer to truth through compelling entertainment. He will graduate with several completed screenplays, extensive show running experience, and even a graphic novel under his belt. "It's been really great," Matt reflects, "to see us growing from an entirely new school to executing a 16 episode web series in a brand new sound stage."
On the business side, the opportunity to Impact Culture through entrepreneurship was what drew talented students like Justin Wilga. "The business curriculum," Justin says, "has really enabled us to build a company of our dreams and to make a positive impact in culture. It's been awesome to be exposed to every critical aspect of launching a business, and have the confidence that we can do it." Justin's business, Creative Rhetoric, is a design and marketing company that focuses on helping businesses and non-profits tell their story more effectively. They have earned $3,000 this past quarter, and have $70,000 of work in the pipeline for after graduation. Justin's confidence is not unwarranted. He has had real experience of knowing what it takes to gain and keep clients under the experienced mentorship of the faculty at JPCatholic.
One of the things that has most impressed the class of 2009 is how the school has grown over the course of 3 1/2 years. "The school has grown by leaps and bounds," says Steve Marshall. "Tim [Evans] and I made the first film ever here at JPCatholic in the first quarter of 2006, and that was before we had cameras! Now it's nice to see fifteen sets of HD cameras, lighting and sound equipment, and a brand new sound stage downstairs. It was mind blowing how quickly we got all of that." Mollie O'Hare, winner of the Impacting Culture Award, noticed how the school is growing not only academically, but also spiritually, "I think it's really grown in its spirit through the last three and a half years. Our Scripture and liberal arts classes have really made a difference; we've really matured as people to the point which we can actually put JPCatholic's mission into action."
On December 12th, the new graduates will go out into the world to make an impact. When they do that, they'll take along friendships that will last a lifetime. "Getting to know the people at the school has just been so great." Mollie O'Hare states, "There are so many talented, creative minds. I'm just honored to be part of it all, and I'm just privileged that I was able to get to know these people for the time I've been here, so thank God for that."