Tag Archives: UCLA

Nearly Supergirl

IMG_0077No, she doesn’t wear a red cape. She wears a tutu.

For everything she does, Madeline Houk, a company dancer with the Los Angeles Ballet, seems to possess more than just normal human powers.

In and of itself, being a full-time ballerina in one of the nation’s top companies is an intense endeavor. But Houk decided she wanted also to study part-time at UCLA. She’s graduating next year with a communications major. On the side, she sells Mary Kay beauty products.

And she’s recovering from a major surgery, her third since she was 16.

“I put in a lot of hours in the Los Angeles Ballet,” said Houk, 21. “But how you spend your free time is up to you. They way I was raised definitely contributed to the way I am. I guess you could say I come from a family of over-achievers.”

Born of ballet dancer parents, Houk was a “ballet school rat.” Her parents – retired from the Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet – launched the San Elijo Dance and Music Academy in San Diego in 2001.

“We really didn’t have a lot of students at the beginning, so my parents took me and my sister to every single class to make it look like we had more students,” Houk said. “That was my life. I would come home from school and go to dance school. I took ballet, tap, everything.” Read the rest of the article.

Editor’s Note: I never was a ballet kind of guy. But since a good friend dances for the LAB, he’s helped me get interviews for articles on the Santa Monica Patch. I’m drawn to human interest articles where the person overcomes great odds to achieve something noteworthy. I’m drawn to stories where the person lives out of passion for a cause much greater than money. Enjoy.

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Jordan Payton and Kate Sommer: record breakers, classmates, friends

JordanPrays

Jordan Payton thanks God after a touchdown.

They were born together, played together, studied together and competed against each other. Whether it was Olympic Day or dodge ball, Jordan Payton, growing tall and strong even as a kid, always beat Kate Sommer.

Now at age 21, Kate finally beat Jordan.

Both students playing Div. 1 sports have broken their respective universities’ records – Kate for digs on women’s volleyball and Jordan for receptions on football. And though they broke records almost at the same time, Kate hit the new high first.

kate sommer on court

“She got me on this one,” Jordan said after practice recently. “She definitely did.”

Kate hit gold in mid-October with four years of digs for Washington State University, spiking the previous high mark of 1,744.

Jordan caught his 194th pass on Nov. 21 – about three weeks later.

“It’s crazy that we both broke records at the same time,” Kate said. “I would always some in second. He would always win. I was always behind him. I actually wanted to beat him.”

Jordan Payton Kate SommerThe feat is indeed extraordinary, in part, because both record-busters came from a tiny school, Lighthouse, which averages 100 enrollment with its primary, middle and high school combined.

But not only did they both go to the same school, they were in the same classroom, which oscillated between 10 and 12 students year-to-year. After middle school, Jordan attended Oaks Christian for its high profile football program – and so inseparable friends started to wend separate paths into the world.

The story of Jordan’s and Kate’s friendship literally started in the womb. Both are youngest children, so their parents became friends as their older brothers and sisters played together in sports, in the Lighthouse Church and in the schools. Read the rest of this fascinating account about record breakers in this Christian school Los Angeles.

Cookie philosophy

Those cookies were so delicious that I, a UCLA undergrad, wanted the whole bag for myself. But as I hoarded and ate, I realized the Diddy Riese cookies from Westwood just weren’t so good all by myself. They were much tastier if I ate them (shared them) with another person. Selfishness and greed ruined the treat.

Cookies are the vehicle to philosophy??? What is true of cookies is true of finances, of everything you have. When you share with meaningful people, when you share with a meaningful cause, it makes your life much more pleasurable. The reason why Scrooge is such a powerful persona is because he resonates with so many people.

Share today! Don’t wait for the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to visit you. Break out the stash of cookies and spread around the happiness. Whatever your wealth, whatever your talent, it will be tastier to you if it is shared.