Whether equipped with a tool belt to build a new home or a smile to bring joy into a child’s life, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kevin Iga has proven himself to be a genuine role model on campus. Though he does not often speak about his service, Iga, who has been teaching at Pepperdine for almost 10 years, is a regular contributor to the community. He spends hours weekly helping those in need through various organizations in the area.
“He serves in ways that no one would ever know,” said Regan Schaffer, adviser of Pepperdine’s nonprofit minor. “When he sees a need, he helps.”
In addition to taking part in various outreach programs through Malibu Presbyterian Church, Iga serves as the adviser of Pepperdine’s Rotaract Club, a volunteer organization, and participates in Habitat for Humanity outings.
He also volunteers weekly at the Upward Bound House in Santa Monica, a shelter for families with children, and monthly at Cloud and Fire, an organization that provides safety for children in dangerous situations.
Iga, motivated by a feeling of personal responsibility, said he has been driven to serve others since an early age.
“I think it’s just a matter of being a part of the community you live in,” Iga said. “The fact is that it’s not sort of a one-sided thing — you become part of their lives and a part of their community, and they give something to you.”
Iga said he recognizes that living in Malibu may seem ideal to many but it, too, is a community with needs. He is concerned with how sheltered it causes those within its limits to become and believes that its problems often go unnoticed.
“There’s such a thing as being so safe that you’re isolated, and it’s important to realize that this world has a lot of things wrong with it — a lot of ways that the world is broken,” Iga said. “It’s easy to forget that here.”
Consequently, Iga spends much of his time helping those less fortunate than he.
“I think it’s important for us to be connected with the outside world,” he said. “And, when we do become connected, then their concerns become our concerns.”
And, Iga’s concern for those around him is a show of character with which many are familiar.
“I think he has a strong passion for giving and for helping,” said junior Katie Wilfong, the student coordinator of Habitat for Humanity. “You can even see that in his teaching style.”
Wilfong has worked with Iga numerous times on the home-building trips.
Once a semester, Iga goes to Tijuana with the Rotaract Club to the Dorcas House. They interact with orphans and children who have been dropped off for the day.
“We bring down toys and that sort of thing,” Iga said. “We also just play with the kids — just show that somebody cares about them.”
Iga and the others on the trip take the children to museums, to get pizza or skating. Students who have gone with Iga to the Dorcas House have noticed how much he enjoys the experience.
“He gets among these kids and he wants to be their best buddy,” said junior Sonnet Frisbie, who served at the vice president of Rotaract last year. “It’s like he’s 10. He’s really fun to be around.”
Although Iga is faced with a number of commitments in his life, he said he always finds time to volunteer. He does not consider the service he provides to be a burden, but rather a joy.
“There’s plenty of time to do things that you think are important,” Iga said. “It’s a matter of figuring out how much time you want to put into it.”
And, Iga said that what he gains for his community service experiences is worth every minute spent.
“It’s not a one-sided sort of deal because they become a part of your life and they enrich your life,” he said, “and you do the same for them.”