Student Spotlight: Jessica Failla (MLS '21)
"While it felt like my world was turned upside down, it was so nice to be able to continue with the MDR program. While many of my friends struggled transitioning to an online school system I was so fortunate that I was already used to the online system. The MDR online program allowed me to stay connected with my classmates and keep a level of normalcy in my life."
At the start of 2020, the Pepperdine women's tennis team was ranked #15 in the country and maintained a rigorous travel and competition schedule. Jessica Failla, one of the most decorated members of the team, balanced an impressive amount of school work with athletics. At the recommendation of a fellow student-athlete, Jessica enrolled in the online Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) program following her graduation from Pepperdine undergraduate with the goal to learn skills that would prepare her to work for a Christian non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children worldwide.
As an athlete, the online program enabled her to earn a Master's degree while competing in tennis tournaments all over the United States. "I am very thankful that the online MDR program gave me the opportunity to pursue my academic and athletic goals," Jessica said. Last fall, she travelled to four professional tennis tournaments and competed in three college events. One of her biggest accomplishments was reaching the finals of a $15,000 professional tournament in Oklahoma, and her participation in this tournament was made possible by being part of the online MDR program. Jessica called it "an amazing opportunity" to reach the finals of this tournament and continue with her online classes at the same time!
This past spring, when COVID-19 abruptly disrupted the student experience, Jessica found herself uniquely equipped to take on the swift transition to online learning. Jessica was already well into the MDR program and set to graduate in the summer.
Since online education continues to remain in place, Jessica enrolled in the online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program. "When the pandemic hit," she explains, "my tennis season was cancelled and all of the professional tournaments I planned to play in the summer were postponed. While it felt like my world was turned upside down, it was so nice to be able to continue with the online program. While many of my friends struggled transitioning to an online school system, I was so fortunate that I was already used to online learning. The MDR online program allowed me to stay connected with my classmates and keep a level of normalcy in my life."
With remote learning to remain in place through next spring, Jessica continues to train in San Diego with her parents, both of whom played professional tennis. Tournaments have also returned with COVID safety measures in place. In July, Jessica won the Summer ITA Nationals in Texas calling the win the biggest accomplishment of her collegiate career.
Jessica concludes by reminding us, "It can be hectic trying to balance school and tennis, but when you are doing what you truly love, you always find time to get everything done!"