Living in La La Land

     “City of stars, are you shining just for me?” opens the Academy Award-winning song from the film “La La Land,” a broadway-esque musical encapsulating life in the big city. People around the globe cannot shake the catchy songs, modern nostalgia or picturesque landscapes out of their heads. With its sheer success in the box office (grossing $369 million worldwide) and 14 nominations—tied with “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for most-nominated film in Oscar history—“La La Land” has further established this “City of Stars” as a place for dreamers.

     While the world is falling in love with this metropolis all over again, The Master’s University is already taking full advantage of all it offers. With a campus that’s only 30 miles north of L.A., the City of Stars does shine for us, especially when it comes to business, communication, music and theater.

     “There is really no major industry not present in Southern California, so students do not have to leave to work in their chosen fields,” said Master’s U Business Department chair, Dr. Kevin Hill.

      Professor Dwight Ham, who is on the Board of Directors for the Independent Citizen’s Advisory and Oversight Committee for the Los Angeles METRO (one of many boards he is on), puts his students on a train and takes them to the city to introduce them to the company and the work they do. Dr. Hill was the president of a full-service web design and hosting firm, Dr. Michael Forgerson worked for a Big Four international accounting firm and maintains his own tax and law practice, Prof. Todd Kostjuk worked real estate, Prof. John Beck was a CEO and General Manager of a local entertainment software company, and this is only the beginning of each of their résumés.

      With professors who have worked in almost every business field, students attending Master’s U have considerable access to expertise and professional connections, especially related to the city and major industries.

     Tricia Hulet, director of Theatre Arts at Master’s U, has opened students up to another realm of industries. “Artistically, there are hundreds of opportunities to both attend and participate in just about every level of performing arts—from community to regional theaters to professional productions.”

     Many Theatre Arts and Music Department alumni have gone on to be high school theater directors and music teachers, composers, production assistants and assistant directors of live theater, or worked in lighting and rigging, costumes, major orchestras and recording at studios like Capitol Records.

      “…because of the proximity and access (to Los Angeles), there is a thriving a vibrant community of appreciation for the arts,” Hulet said, and those relationships they build with people all over the city in costuming, sets and props, etc. “are a platform building for the gospel… Many are so impressed by the character of our students, backed up by their ability, that they have been given job opportunities they otherwise would not have had.”

      Recently the Communication Department, chaired by Prof. Bob Dickson, produced “Drift,” a short film shot on the last permanent space ship set in Southern California. This set was used to shoot the American television drama “Firefly,”as well as the feature film “X-Men.”

     “We can bring our students to L.A.,” Dickson said, “but even more it’s that we can bring L.A. to our students.”

And, with guest speakers like writer/producer John Sullivan, writer/director Chris Dowling, Senior Vice President of Disney Character Voices Rick Dempsey and more, they have.

      Their productions, comprised of 60 percent students and 40 percent industry professionals, are the real experience. Currently, they are working on a short that will be mixed at Warner Brothers, a studio only 24 miles away. But then, most major studios are only a short drive from Master’s: Disney (23.3 miles), Columbia Pictures (31.4 miles), 20th Century Fox (29.8 miles), Paramount Pictures (27.2 miles), Universal Pictures (23 miles), MGM (28.5 miles), the list goes on. 

      In addition to the strictly academic and professional benefits afforded by living near L.A., the sands of Santa Monica or Malibu, the outlook at the Griffith Observatory, the tall pines in Frazier Park, and the expansive desert are less than an hour’s drive from Santa Clarita.

      The Mediterranean climate is always temperate; there is a reason why "La La Land" opens with “Another Day of Sun.” Diversity and culture are unlimited, and students can easily experience incredible food, world-renowned coffee shops, museums like LACMA, the Getty and MODA, places like the Pantages Theater, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl,  Universal Studios, Studio City, the Grove and the Americana, Melrose Place, Sunset Boulevard and the L.A. Zoo.

      In the midst of this, there are biblically sound, gospel-centered churches for each student to be involved in: Grace Community, Placerita Bible, Grace Baptist, Oak Hill Bible, Santa Clarita Baptist and more. Churches and dorms like Hotchkiss Hall engage with the city by sending groups to evangelize at local train stations or Skid Row. Ultimately, in this prime location that affords every realm of industry, there is one goal. There is no better place to learn how to be a Christian in a secular world than The Master’s University.

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