Tag Archives: UCLA

A different kind of success

josh young santa monicaStraight out of college, Josh Young worked for Veneklasen Associates, a transnational multimillion dollar sound engineering firm. He bought a house in Santa Monica for his beautiful bride and budding family.

Then all of sudden, he jumped from the corporate ladder and ditched his enviable success.

“I felt unfulfilled at the engineering firm. I wanted to make an impact in people. But that was not financially feasible until there was a miracle in my finances,” said young-looking LCA teacher. “My mortgage went down. Instead of saving more money, I decided to take a pay- and benefit cut to work for the church and school.”

Now, Josh Young is poised to take over the Lighthouse Christian Academy as principal, as long-time chief Jack Mefford steps aside to pursue his calling to start a church in Pismo Beach this June.

LCA new principalSome would say Josh sabotaged his own financial security, but he is completely happy with his decision for people over pay.

“I’m living the American dream,” he insisted. “Well, if it’s just money and moving up the corporate ladder, no, I don’t miss that. It was stressful. It was very demanding. I wasn’t happy. Coming over here to try to help people, I’m healthier, happier. I have more freedom with my time. I’m able to pursue more interests like being a chaplain.”

For two years now, Josh Young has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Lighthouse Church schools and church planting machine. He was ordained as a pastor in 0000. He teaches government, guitar, economics and history at LCA.

And, he’s a chaplain for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which means he gets called out of the office (or his bed) whenever there’s a first-responder’s emergency and has to be on hand for victims of fire or violence in the moment of shock when tragedy just struck.

“It’s a great opportunity to help people that are experiencing very difficult moments in life. Usually it’s a death or a near-death, some life-altering event,” Josh said. “They are alone or scared, and just to be a compassionate person ministering to them and helping them is a privilege.”

How did he get roped into the unpaid chaplaincy? As with most great things that great men do, his great wife signed him up.

“She worked in the Santa Monica UCLA emergency room, and firemen came by and said they were starting a chaplain program, and they asked her if her husband would be interested,” he related. “The next thing I know, I got a phone call and they wanted to meet and talk about being a chaplain.”

Getting yanked from bed for a 3:00 a.m. fire may not be fun, but he gets to wear a cool fireman hat.

Josh Young was a child of divorce. His mom moved him and his two older sisters to Santa Monica. This may be hard to believe, but he was a rebellious kid.

As a punishment for misbehavior, he was forced to go to youth group at the Lighthouse Church.

Yup, that was the start of everything. (So don’t despair, parents, when your kids are disciplined.)

Ironically, his “punishment” led to friendships. He was in middle school and started making friends among the Lighthouse youth. This led to him accepting Jesus into his heart and becoming a disciple.

When he was about to enroll in high school, his mom asked: SaMoHi or LCA?

The rest is history.

As a scrawny freshman, he took PE, which at the time was working out with the football team. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Josh had absolutely no intention of playing 8-man varsity football with all the kid crushers in CIF’s Southern Section.

But before he knew it, he was being handed football pads and a helmet and found himself, bewildered and asking what happened, on the gridiron with guys three times his weight running at him and looking to crush him like an aluminum can.

“Let’s just say, I wasn’t a starter,” Josh recalled. “The greatest thing I did was I stopped a two-point conversion.”

LCA was going through something of a purge at the time with a slew of well-behaved kids being expelled, so his graduating class in the year 2000 was a mere four students. (Josh likes to brag that he graduated among the top four.)

Among his God decisions during high school, Josh bailed on the estrogen environment of his mom and sisters and moved into Pastor Rob Scribner’s house in north Santa Monica. Read the rest of LCA’s new principal.

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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.

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.