Recipients of the Hirosuke Ishiguro/ Westside Scholarship
In 2002, the Japanese the Westside Church of Christ sold their building and the congregation donated more than half a million dollars to setup the Ishiguro Westside Japan Endowed Scholarship at Pepperdine University. The scholarship is awarded annually to Church of Christ graduate students in the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion or Master of Science in Ministry programs at Pepperdine University through the Religion and Philosophy Division. Every year, scholarship recipients and former Westside congregation members get together for a lunch in Los Angeles.
The Religion and Philosophy Division maintains this site in gratitude
for the Westside Church of Christ's generosity towards our graduate students.
Nicole Son is from Pasadena, California, and graduated from Pepperdine in 2022 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a Minor in Religion. She is the daughter of two Pepperdine alumni and chose to attend Pepperdine for the opportunities to grow in her faith. While serving in the campus ministry, she became deeply passionate about helping others deepen their relationships with Christ and building up the Church. Additionally, taking religion courses such as Women in the Early Church, Religions of the World, and Church of Christ History inspired her to pursue further theological education. Nicole is a current Master of Divinity student and serves as the Graduate Student Minister at the Hub for Spiritual Life.
Daniel Ramli is from San Diego, California, and graduated from Pepperdine in 2019 with a BS in Mathematics. After undergrad, Daniel went on to work as an analyst in the defense industry. He quickly began to miss the community and opportunities for mentoring young adults, which he experienced during his two years as a Spiritual Life Advisor in Pepperdine Residence Life. Daniel hoped to pursue a career in Residence Life and further his discipleship to Jesus, so he applied to Pepperdine's MS in Ministry program in 2020. Through the Westside Scholarship, Daniel could pursue further studies that would equip him for ministry outside the typical church setting. After graduating with an MS in Ministry in the Fall of 2021, Daniel served as a Resident Director at Pepperdine University. Daniel is entering his third year as a Resident Director at Pepperdine University.
Rachel Yoshimura is from Kailua, Hawai’i and graduated from Pepperdine in 2018 with a B.A. in Communications. She chose to attend Pepperdine because of its warm community and its opportunities to challenge and grow her faith. During her senior year at Pepperdine, Rachel met Jeff Walling, the Director of Pepperdine’s Youth Leadership Initiative, who encouraged her to apply for the Next Generation Preacher Search. Prior to the Next Gen program, Rachel had never considered working in ministry, but God used the program to reveal this calling on her life. Receiving this scholarship allowed Rachel to realistically consider pursuing further studies that would equip her for ministry. Rachel graduated with an MS in Ministry in the Fall of 2020 and will continue to pursue a career in ministry by serving as the Young Adult Ministry Director at Vintage Church Malibu. Rachel also received the scholarship for 2019-2020.
Erinn Harris is from Pittsburg, CA. He attended Pepperdine for his M. DIV from 2014-2016. During his educational journey, Erinn had the opportunity to work with the African Christian College in Kingdom of Swaziland. In addition to the degrees he earned at Pepperdine, Erinn has a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry from Abilene Christian University and he is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry in African-American Transformational Church Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. Erinn Harris's favorite thing to do in the world is preach, so he has dedicated his life to preaching, teaching, and ministry. He has been in ministry for over 10 years and has served as the Preaching Minister at Maryneal Church of Christ and as an Associate Minister at Reseda Church of Christ.
Ken was born in Vietnam and grew up in San Francisco, California. He did not become a Christian until he was in college, but following that he and his wife lived in the mission field for 14 years before moving to Los Angeles. He decided to pursue a Masters of Ministry degree at Pepperdine, and admired Pepperdine’s quality education, amazing views and the opportunities to lead within the Christian community. Ken mentioned that the attentiveness of the professors really enhanced his learning over his 4 years in the Master's Program: "I think each professor added a different slant to shaping my graduate education. Dr. Willis and Dr. Rodriguez have really helped me through". When asked about how the Westside Scholarship impacted him, he stated, "I am super grateful. It is a dream come true - I did a lot of fieldwork but have always yearned for formal training in God's word". Ken graduated with a Master of Science in Ministry during the Spring 2020 semester. He currently serves as the lead minister at the Sac Metro Church in Sacramento, California. Ken also received the scholarship for 2016-2017; 2017-2018; and 2018-2019.
Zac Luben is originally from the Bay Area in Northern California and grew up attending the Redwood Church of Christ in Redwood City, California. He chose Pepperdine for both his undergraduate and graduate student experiences, which he says were excellent and formative. He started at Pepperdine in 2001 and graduated with a B.A. in Religion in 2005. He then returned in 2009 to continue his education in the Master of Divinity program, which he finished in 2014. When asked about specific professors or classes that impacted him, he replied, "One of the most significant classes and professors during my time as a student was New Testament World with Dr. Ron Cox. The class challenged me to consider the rich historical and cultural contexts that the New Testament writers found themselves in. I have used the information I learned in this class in sermons and classes I’ve taught in my ministry." The Westside Scholarship greatly benefited Zac because it made it possible for him to pursue a graduate degree without the financial burden that usually accompanies a degree. He has served in full-time youth & family ministry for the last few years, working for the Culver Palms Church of Christ in Los Angeles as the Youth & Family Minister. Zac is also an adjunct professor of Religion at Pepperdine University and serves as the Program Director of CrossWays, a life-transforming, nine-day experience at Pepperdine University for high school students in the summer after their sophomore and junior years on campus. He was a scholarship recipient during both the 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 academic years.
Matthew McCay is originally from Washington State, where he grew up attending and teaching in the Churches of Christ. He left his home in Yakima, WA to attend Washington State University where he earned a B.A. in Social Sciences in 2004. He then served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, most recently completing his service with a combat deployment to Iraq in 2010. Matthew completed a Master of Divinity degree from Pepperdine University. He and his wife, Sarah, have relocated back to Washington, where Matthew is the full time chaplain at the Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital. Matthew also volunteers with his church family as a homeless ministry coordinator and acts as a chaplain for veterans in his local area. Matthew emphasizes that the scholarship and training he had received at Pepperdine is used every day: "I use the biblical knowledge and exegetical skills gained in my studies to teach God's love for the world and the truth of his word in the church setting. I use my ministry training daily in my walk with patients and families through their times of great personal crisis in the hospital setting to help bring them hope and courage as they find their way through the storm. I believe that real love, the kind of love that God desires from us towards him and towards our neighbor, requires sacrificial service. My studies at Pepperdine have helped prepare me to render that love and that sacrificial service in a more effective way. I'm very grateful for the Westside scholarship that greatly aided me during my time at Pepperdine."
Donald Goodwin grew up in Orange County, CA. After earning his B.A. in Religion from Pepperdine in 1995, he served as the Youth Minister for the Sunny Hills Church of Christ in his hometown of Fullerton, California. His wife Michelle, also a Pepperdine graduate (B.A.,1996), served with him in this ministry for over thirteen years. They have three children. Don completed his M.DIV in 2015 and his MS in Religion in 2016. He plans to use his theological and ministry training to continue serving in the church. Donald was also a recipient for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Virginia (Ginny) Weldon
Virginia (Ginny) Weldon is from Austin, Texas where she received her BA in history from the University of Texas. She completed her thesis, "The topos militia spiritualis in Romans 7:21-25 and Romans 13:11-14" in the fall of 2013, and graduated from Pepperdine with an MA in New Testament studies in December. After completing her thesis, Ginny moved back to Austin, employed at the Texas Office of the Attorney General as a Legal Assistant. Ginny is planning to seek a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is interested in learning how to help couples and individuals who struggle with anxiety and depression. She is also interested in using art-therapy to treat conditions such as PTSD or other trauma-related mental health issues. She says that her dreams of pursuing her goals would never have been reached without the Westside Scholarship, "Without the Westside scholarship, my current job, and my graduate plans would not have been possible. Although I don't formally use my M.A. in Religion, the research skills, and strong scriptural foundation I gained with this degree helped make me more employable in the legal field, and helped me interpersonally, by teaching me to relate to my co-workers in a more Christ-like manner." Ginny currently works as a Legal Assistant for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Tamara Cortez White
Tamara Cortez White, a native of Southern California, studied at Azusa Pacific University from 2002 till 2006, graduating with her BA in Business Administration and a minor in Philosophy. Once she moved back to Ventura County after college, she began attending the University Church of Christ where she learned of the MS in Ministry Program Pepperdine offers. Feeling led to apply, she left her corporate job and in 2010 started the program. As a student she traveled to Thailand on a short-term missions trip and spoke on two occasions on campus, and during the upcoming winter break she will be traveling to northern India through a Pepperdine study program. Since graduating in 2011, Tamara has worked with multiple nonprofit organizations, the American Red Cross, and other corporations where she continues to utilize the skills she acquired during her time at Pepperdine.
Christopher Chesnutt completed the M.S. in Ministry program in 2011. A native of Malibu, California, he grew up on the Pepperdine campus. After completing a B.A. in Bible and Ministry at Abilene Christian University in 2008, he came home to Pepperdine for graduate study. He has done short-term missionary and service work in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Kenya as well as several ministry internships with churches in southern California. After completing the M.S, Christopher interned at many Churches of Christ in the greater Los Angeles area. He also served as the Interim Preaching Minster at the Pasadena Church of Christ. He is currently a caregiver at Rescare and serving his local community.
Matt Bush is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. After transferring from Harding University in 2003, he completed his B.A. in Religion at Pepperdine in 2005 and began the M.Div. program at Pepperdine that same year. From 2004 through 2006 he served as a Campus Ministry Intern with the University Church of Christ that meets on Pepperdine's Malibu campus, and in 2006, he worked as the Worship Leader at the Culver Palms Church of Christ. Matt also worked as the Senior Information Technology Analyst for the University. Upon completing the M.Div program in 2011, Matt relocated to Phoenix to work for a fitness and well-being training program, using his degree to educate from a Christian perspective. Currently, Matt serves as a coach and consultant for Next Level Neuro.
Zach Love grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. He graduated from Pepperdine with a B.S. in Sports Medicine in 2007. As he pursued his M.S. in Ministry, Zach served as the Administrative Assistant for Worship at the University Church of Christ that meets on the Pepperdine campus in Malibu. After completing his M.S., Zach earned a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and worked with couples and families while as a graduate student. 2 years after completing his MFT, Zach returned to Pepperdine and served as the Resident Director at the university. Zach's wife, Haley, is also a Pepperdine graduate. Zach now serves as the Residential Community Educator at Oklahoma State University.
Jay Parmelee, originally from Thousand Oaks, California, was a joint J.D.-M.Div. student at Pepperdine, dividing his time between the School of Law and the Religion Division at Seaver College. He began his studies at Pepperdine in 1997 and graduated in 2002 with B.A. in Religion and History. He and his wife, Hannah (also a Pepperdine graduate), currently live in Southern California and are members of the Conejo Valley Church of Christ. Upon completing his graduate degrees, he worked as a research assistant as well as an adjunct professor for the University, teaching undergraduate students about the history of Ancient Israel. As of 2011, Jay has been an attorney in the Conejo Valley area, specializing in civil litigation, subrogation, and workers' compensation defense. Jay is now an Attorney at Law Offices of Heywood G. Friedman. Jay was also a scholarship recipient for the 2006-2007 academic year.
Jen Rogers is a native of west Texas. Jen is a graduate of Texas Tech University (B.S. in Biology, 2001; and B.A. in Psychology, 2002) and Abilene Christian University (M.A. in Christian Ministry, 2004). Before moving to Malibu, Jen worked in campus ministry with the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas; Abilene Christian University; and the Manhattan Church of Christ in Manhattan, Kansas. Jen received her M.DIV from Pepperdine in 2014 and completed her Doctor of Ministry from Abilene Christian University in 2018. In addition to her many degrees, Jen was the minister at a Church of Christ in Texas and served the International Rescue Committee, an organization that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and help people to survive, recover, and gain control of their future as a caseworker and volunteer coordinator. Jen now serves as the Community Engagement Supervisor for the International Rescue Committee.
Roslyn Bennett Cargill
Roslyn Bennett is a native of Farwell, Texas, and a graduate of Lubbock Christian University, where she earned her B.A. in Youth and Family Ministry in 2001. Moving to Malibu in 2004, she served as youth minister at the University Church of Christ that meets on the Pepperdine campus until 2010. Roslyn also worked in the Seaver College Business Division. Roslyn discontinued her M.Div. degree and has moved to Iowa with her husband to raise their children.
Erin has undergraduate degrees from Pepperdine in Psychology and Spanish. In 2010 she completed her Master of Divinity from Pepperdine and went on to receive her MS in Counseling Psychology from California Lutheran University. Erin currently works as a ESOL Professor at Kaiser University and lives in Southern California with her two children Sebastian and Kimmy.
Ryan Bien was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Marketing in 2002 and worked as a business manager before beginning the M.S. in Ministry program at Pepperdine in 2004. As a member of the Calgary Church of Christ, he worked extensively both in youth ministry and in mission efforts in Zambia and Mexico. While working on his MDiv, Ryan served as a Campus Minister at Pepperdine University from 2005-2007. Previously, he worked as the Connections Minister at First Colony Church of Christ in SugarLand, Texas. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for Let’s Start Talking Ministry.
Cliff Barbarick, originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado,completed the Master of Divinity degree in 2005. He came to Pepperdine in 1997 to begin his undergraduate degree, graduated in 2001 with a B.A. in Religion, and returned the next fall to begin graduate work. He and his wife, Tali (also a Pepperdine graduate), currently live in Texas and are members of the University Church of Christ. Cliff now works as a Associate Professor in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministries at Abilene Christian University. In reflection of how the scholarship has aided him, Cliff is grateful, "I use my degree every day as I teach undergraduates about the New Testament and biblical interpretation. I'm very appreciative for the education and training that I received at Pepperdine, and I continue to stay connected with the Religion Division, occasionally coming back to campus to teach a summer class." Cliff was also a recipient for the 2003-2004 academic year.
Gincy Hartin is a native of Garland, Texas, and a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Houston (B.A. in Music, 1993). From 2000-2008, he was on the Bible Faculty of West Valley Christian Church School in West Hills, CA. Gincy received his M.DIV from Pepperdine in 2008. After completing his MDIV, he assumed a full-time position as Worship Leader at the West Valley Christian Church. As of 2010, Gincy and his wife, Stacee, relocated to Chicago, where he serves as an Associate Minister with a concentration in Student Ministry and Worship Ministry.
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Kelsy Powell Nelson graduated from Pepperdine in 2000 with a B.A. in Humanities. As a result of several undergraduate Religion courses that sparked her interest in the study of theology, she began graduate work soon after completing her B.A. At various times during her graduate studies, Kelsy served as a Spiritual Life Advisor through Pepperdine's Residential Life Office, as an intern to the University Chaplain, and as Administrative Assistant in the Religion Division Office. Upon completing her M.Div. in 2005, she returned to Washington in pursuit of a Master's degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Holly Tallon, a Colorado native, has a Master of Science Degree in Ministry from Pepperdine. She completed her B.A. in Psychology at Pepperdine in 2002 and immediately began the graduate Ministry program. For two years she worked as an Intern in Campus Ministry on Pepperdine's Malibu campus. She and her husband, Luke, served as Youth Ministers for the University Church of Christ in Malibu. After completing her M.S. in Ministry in 2004, Holly worked in a Christian counseling setting. She is committed to using her education and ministry experience to bless people who have not had the same opportunities.
Arik Swindlehurst was born and raised in Oregon. Before beginning the Master of Divinity program at Pepperdine in the Fall of 2003, he lived in Idaho for eleven years and worked in various capacities for a hardwood lumber distributor. In 1997 he completed a B.A. in History at Boise State University. In 2003 he also completed an M.S. in Ministry through Pepperdine's off-campus program in Boise. Arik and his wife, Becky, have two children, Kimberley and Gabriel. The family worships with the Conejo Valley Church of Christ. Upon completing his M.Div. at Pepperdine, Arik hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Historical Theology and eventually to teach Theology in a university setting.