Picking Pepperdine

LIHUE – It wasn’t Kirsten Malapit’s years of advanced placement classes at Island School. 

It wasn’t her volunteer missionary work in a remote village in the Philippines. 

It wasn’t her 1860 SAT score and it wasn’t the essays she wrote about overcoming life’s challenges.

It was all of that and more when it came to the complete package that earned her acceptance into prestigious Pepperdine University.  More than 15,000 hopefuls applied to the Malibu, California school last year. Less than 900 students enrolled in 2013 in the Seaver College she will be attending.  

“Once I got accepted into Pepperdine, it’s really an elite school, my parents came on board,” said the daughter of Lon and Lianne Malapit. “They were so, so excited but they said the only way I could go was if I got a scholarship. It was definitely the most expensive school of all the schools I was considering.”

The college-bound student credits her parents with instilling in her ambition and compassion. She grew up around her mother’s work at Lifeway Pharmacies. 

“When I was 5 years old I would always go in and pretend to fill prescriptions using Skittles,” Malapit remembers. “My sister and friends would bring them to school to show to the teachers. We’d put funny little stickers on the bottles.” 

Malapit said she was impressed with the relationships she watched develop between her mom and her patients. She saw how her mother and the workers made a difference in people’s lives and she set her sights on becoming a pharmacist.

“There have been a few times when my mom has gotten phone calls in the middle of the night from family members of a patient who was suicidal,” Malapit remembers. “She would go over and sit with them. She has real personal connections with her patients.”

Then there is her father’s generous nature.

“For elderly patients, my dad has this delivery thing he does,” Malapit said. “When patients can’t drive themselves and come to the pharmacy, he drives around delivering their prescriptions. Then he prays with them. He is an associate pastor at our church.” 

As a child, Malapit learned a life lesson she recalls about physical things.

“Everything we’re given is not ours, it’s temporary and we are to give freely because they are not ours to keep,” Malapit remembers. 

She and her sister’s toy chest was overflowing and their mother told them about all the homeless children on the island who had nothing. 

“We started an Easter basket ministry,” Malapit said. “We had toys we didn’t play with and even if we still wanted them we would put them in these big baskets for the homeless kids at Waimea Beach Park.”

The first year they delivered 40 baskets. 

“I cried when I saw kids at the beach who had nothing,” she said. “The toys I’d never used made them so happy. It touched my heart. “

In high school, she traveled to a remote mountain village in the Philippines during a mission trip with Calvary Chapel Lihue. 

“There was no running water or electricity,” Kirsten’s mother Lianne said. “We set up a medical clinic. We were the first and only medical people they had ever seen in their lives.” 

Her pursuit of her dreams demands hard work — and a lot of money. At a rate of $60,000 a year, Malapit is planning on doing work study to bridge the gap between her $22,000 annual scholarship and the cost of attending Pepperdine. 

“My parents have been saving up too and they said they are going to work more,” Malapit said. 

Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com.

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