Pepperdine’s Kimberly Stoltzfus wasn’t the type of person who seemed slated to become a professor.
The young woman had graduated from Washington State University with a degree in communications and finished her masters in communications at the Pullman Wash. university. She was married and living happily in Washington D.C. Her career was blossoming. To all her friends in Washington D.C. she seemed to be perfectly content.
With a job encompassing everything from policy analysis to technology development at the Department of Homeland Security Stoltzfus was a busy woman and a rising star in the business and political world. Her husband Todd was working extensively with the State Department providing humanitarian aid to central and eastern Africa. They were living the American Dream.
A deeply spiritual woman Stoltzfus felt satisfied in her work until she heard Charles Malik’s words. And the world shook beneath her feet.
“He implored Christian evangelists to realize that they face two tasks: that of saving the soul and that of saving the mind Stoltzfus said. We (Stoltzfus and husband Todd) knew we had to go and heed God’s calling.”
Malik a renowned scholar and evangelical Christian was the final force in her decision to leave behind her work at the Department of Homeland Security and her promising career as a business consultant to teach.
Even in the midst of her busy life in Washington D.C. after she heard Malik’s words Stoltzfus felt as though there might be something more she could be doing. Her career was no longer her calling.
It was then that she realized she was being called to teach.
When asked why she had abandoned her career she said very seriously “It was about following a calling not really abandonment.” She and her husband had felt the call and they were going to follow it no matter where it took them.
So Stoltzfus left her home in Washington DC. She and Todd packed up leaving behind her government job and his humanitarian work their friends and the city that they had called home for years and traveled 2367 miles across the country to the West Coast where she took up a teaching position in the Communications Department at University of California Santa Barbara.
After teaching happily for several years Stoltzfus and her husband decided to take a trip down Pacific Coast Highway.
Though they normally would take the 101 Freeway to Los Angeles they were inspired that day to take the scenic route. On the way down the highway Stoltzfus looked up and saw Pepperdine University.
“We could not help but see this university perched right along the hillside Stoltzfus reminisced. We decided to stop for lunch and ate in the cafeteria and we both were mesmerized with Pepperdine.”
It was then that Stoltzfus made up her mind. “It’s not just a pretty school. Several scholars I highly respected raved about Pepperdine Stoltzfus said, her eyes glittering joyfully.
There was no doubt that I was going to apply if a position opened up. And thankfully one did.”
This year when a teaching job finally opened up Stoltzfus left Santa Barbara and took up the mantle of a Pepperdine professor. And she is feeling right at home in Malibu.
“I am blessed to be here and working among some of the most intelligent and collegial professors in the business of academics Stoltzfus said.
They have a drive to be the best teachers and scholars out there — primarily so they can provide an optimal learning environment for students.”
And for Stoltzfus her job is not about the research opportunities or the prestige of the university. Her job is about the students and for the students.
She wants to prepare them for the real world. “Being involved in communication careers is more than being a good writer — there is so much to consider to intellectualize and then to strategize she said.
To be able to share my professional experiences adds context to theory and hopefully helps prepare my students for what is ahead.”
She believes her real world experience helps her students to grasp the theories that she imparts to them.
Describing the dot-com-boom to dot-com-bust she said “To live through that to experience it and also to understand personally what it is like to be in the trenches and to be able to react to what is going on in society is important.”
By giving her students the necessary tools to become major players in the communication field Stoltzfus hope to prepare them for the reality and to give them the resilience and adaptability they will need.
But college is not just about educating the mind Stoltzfus stressed. College should be the environment that the student can develop both their intellect and their spirit. And Stoltzfus works hard to ensure that her students are stimulated intellectually and spiritually.
“College is indeed a battle of the mind – and not just at secular universities Stoltzfus said. I find that students are indeed in a spiritual war at places of faith.”
To Stoltzfus it was this call to a complete education that drew her to Pepperdine. Teaching may be her job but it is the education of the soul that is her vocation.
“The students are impressive and show seriousness of purpose she said.
As a devout Christian, Stoltzfus is happy to be in a place that supports her faith and makes her feel secure. Though the view from the Pepperdine campus might be beautiful, Stoltzfus says that Pepperdine’s true beauty comes from its Christian principles.
While she loves Pepperdine for many reasons, Most importantly I am grateful to be in an environment where my faith is paramount.”