From the hills of Malibu, Calif., to the canals of Cambridge, England, Professor Christina Littlefield has seen it all. Littlefield, a journalism professor and Pepperdine alumna, has traveled across the world and back again for her career.
Littlefield, who grew up in Las Vegas, Nev., first ventured to Pepperdine the summer after her junior year of high school. She was part of former professor and Graphic Adviser Michael Jordan’s journalism camp. At this time, Littlefield became acquainted with Jordan and current Communication Chair Ken Waters.
“It was such an amazing experience that it made Pepperdine instantly my first choice college,” Littlefield said. She was accepted to the university, and so her history with Pepperdine began.
Littlefield entered as a journalism major and later added a minor in religion. She also became a Christian at Pepperdine.
“I was actually baptized in the faculty Jacuzzi as a freshman by Linda Truschke — first person she ever baptized,” Littlefield said as she chuckled at the memory. Truschke was and still is one of the campus ministers.
It was an experience that would shape the rest of Littlefield’s college career.
As an undergraduate student, Littlefield’s most memorable experiences were working on the Graphic and studying abroad in London. London was where she discovered her passion for all things English.
After graduation, Littlefield returned to Las Vegas and interned for the Las Vegas Sun.
“I possibly would have just stayed there, except Dr. Waters and Dr. Jordan harassed me to do graduate school at Pepperdine,” Littlefield said.
Littlefield got her master’s degree at Pepperdine in a single year.
“I don’t wish that on my greatest enemy,” she said.
While pursuing her master’s degree, Littlefield was a graduate assistant to Dr. Jordan with the Graphic. She then returned to Las Vegas, where she made plans to settle down and buy a home. Her plans fell through, and the only explanation for this was that “God had bigger and better things in store.”
“Being a person of faith, I was led to pray,” Littlefield said. “I actually went out into the wilderness, literally, to pray. And there, I felt God say to me Cambridge was the answer.”
Littlefield initially applied to Cambridge on a whim with no expectations of getting accepted. She jokingly explained that she applied for one of two reasons: “Either because of indigestion or God.” She sent in her application for the divinity program, which aligned with her love of religion and culture.
She still remembers the day in June 2007 when she received news of her acceptance. On a break at the Las Vegas Sun, Littlefield checked the online status of her Cambridge application. She saw that she was accepted and could not believe her eyes.
“I was dumbstruck,” she said.
In a flurry of excitement and disbelief, she ran out of work to process the information by herself. Like any young adult of her generation, her next move was to text her closest friends.
“I guess it wasn’t indigestion,” she texted.
“Really, you got in?” One friend texted back.
Littlefield responded with a short, “Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.”
At Cambridge, Littlefield completed the divinity program. During her five-year stay, she said she sought to understand why God called her there.
When asked why she thought she was placed halfway across the world, Littlefield beamed with excitement. She held up her ring finger. On it was an opal ring that her fiance, Nathan Eng, whom she had met while at Cambridge, had given her. She explained that God had graciously placed this man in her life.
Eng is Canadian and was recently approved for an America visa. The two plan to reunite in December with the wedding in the same month.
In April 2010, a visit from Waters and his wife Julie altered Littlefield’s path once again. She and Waters discussed the needs of the journalism department back at Pepperdine. Waters was convinced that Littlefield would make a great contribution to the department.
“I felt she would be a perfect combination of intellectual strength and practical experience. Both her M.A. in religion and communication from Pepperdine and her Ph.D. prepared her for a rigorous approach to scholarship, publishing and teaching,” Waters said.
A spot opened in the journalism department in 2012 when Dr. Jordan retired.
On Jan. 10, 2012, Littlefield successfully defended her Ph.D. She emailed Dr. Waters to let him know the good news. That same night, Littlefield awoke at 3 a.m., restless. Something told her to check her email. In her inbox there was a new message from Waters.
“Can I add to the euphoria of the day? You should be receiving a letter from the dean offering you a position at Pepperdine. It should arrive by email in the next day or two,” Waters wrote. Littlefield called her parents and they cried together in awe.
Littlefield is now jointly appointed as an assistant professor of communication and religion at Seaver College. Her meandering journey is what makes her story unique.
According to Waters, her life is “a story of the American dream, that whole idea that anyone can accomplish anything if they work hard enough and keep the faith.”
Whether Littlefield will stay at Pepperdine for the remainder of her career is still a mystery.
As Littlefield said, “That’s up to God.”