Jettygirl: Out of all the universities in California and beyond, you chose to attend UCLA. How did that come about? Have you always wanted to be a Bruin?
Heather Jordan: I chose to attend UCLA because of the vast opportunities that are available to you as a student. I did not always want to be a Bruin, but the more I learned about the opportunities available to UCLA students as well as the fact that I can enjoy myself at the same time, the more I desired to become a Bruin. At UCLA, you can walk out of a lecture and feel an ocean breeze. Excellent study abroad programs are just one of the many opportunities available to Bruins,where you can travel to a different country and take certain classes. UCLA is ranked amongst the top 10 universities in the nation for studying abroad. The fact that I didn’t need to be isolated on campus quarter after quarter was not only a refreshing relief, it was very inspiring.
Jettygirl: How old were you when the seeds of college were planted in your heart? Was a higher education something that was encouraged by your parents or was it more a situation where you always knew that you wanted to go to a university?
Heather: To be honest with you, I didn’t think I was even going to college for the majority, if not entirety of my high school years. The desires of making it as a professional surfer were quite dominating, and I didn’t see any reason in making plans to go to college if I was going to be making money surfing in the future. The desire of going to college began when I was 17 or 18 years old, and I’m 20 now. My parents did not push college on me, it was more like me traveling different paths including surfing and going to school …and them supporting me with my own decisions. I thank my parents for letting me discover my own interests.
Jettygirl: While other competitive surfers are trying to hit the pro tour, you’ve decided to head to school instead. What played into your decision to hit the books instead of hitting the road?
Heather: Everyone has different passions and paths. I really do enjoy travelling and competing in contests, but I had a greater desire to take a break from that and go to school for a couple years. College life can be really fun, especially when you find subjects and a field you find a lot of interest in. Also, I figured that I could still surf on my free time, especially since I go to a school that’s so close to the beach.
Jettygirl: Have you decided on an area of study at school yet? A degree from UCLA will surely open some doors for you. Do you have any particular careers fields in mind that you’ll be working toward in college?
Heather: I’m majoring in political science with a focus in international relations, and my minor is in environmental systems and society. I think that these two areas of study are deeply interconnected. What happens in our environment does not contain itself to specific boundaries. Pollution within our ocean for example, moves with the currents and effects more countries and regions than where it originated. It would be so fulfilling to me to have a career that is related to the field of environmental law. I am taking things at my own pace and want to have fun and real experiences that will help me become more knowledgeable in these areas.
Jettygirl: All three of you are tied intricately to your local surf spots. How difficult is it going to be to say goodbye? What will you miss the most about your home break and your hometown?
Heather: I have just moved in to my new room on campus, and it was pretty hard to say goodbye to my family and friends. I know I’m going to miss saying “hi” and surfing with all the great people I know at the North Jetty in Oceanside. I already miss my doggie Max …I have a picture of him right above my desk in my room.
Jettygirl: When offshore winds roar down Oceanside’s San Luis Rey, or the conditions at Laguna’s fickle reefs turn on, or Zuma’s barrels begin calling your name, how will you deal with the occasional bout of surf fever? Did you plan your class schedule to allow for some surf time?
Heather: Oceanside is about two hours away from UCLA, so I’m definitely planning to still surf there when I can on some weekends. This quarter I couldn’t really plan my schedule at all. I’m taking three classes, and two them I had to take in order to take upper division political science classes next quarter. Those two classes only have one lecture session, so I just grabbed the opportunity I had to squeeze myself into those. For my third class, I chose one that most interested me and wasn’t at the same time as my first two classes. I do have a lot of time to surf on Wednesday afternoons, Friday afternoons, and the weekend. Even though I’m taking 15 units, my schedule is pretty flexible.
Jettygirl: Kids are getting bombarded with promises of fame and fortune at an earlier and earlier age these days. In the quest for a future pro career, the importance of school and a true education has taken a back seat to photo shoots, sponsor obligations, time in the water and the dubious claims of some homeschool situations. If a grommet version of Taylor, Chandler or Heather came to you for advice on the balance of school and surfing, what would you say to her?
Heather: The key is to know what your passion is, and also to realize that you can have many passions at the same time. With me, I love surfing as well as learning about different cultures, the environment, and what is happening in other countries. If a mini version of me came to me for advice, I would tell her that I think surfers make great students because of the determination they develop through learning to surf, facing their fears, and competing in contests.
Jettygirl: A quick viewing of the results of the 2011 NSSA College National Championships reveals that all of the top placings were being taken by traditional surf schools like UCSB, Point Loma, SDSU, Mira Costa and a variety of East Coast universities. With the three of you attending UCLA at the same time, the Lady Bruins look to be a formidable force in the 2011/2012 surf contest season. It looks like your cross-town rival, USC, finished in 11th place overall largely due to a fantastic performance by your friend Kaleigh Gilchrist. Care to make any predictions how the UCLA surf team will fare this year?
Heather: With the quarter just starting, it would be hard to say because we don’t know who will be on the surf team. I do know that we’ll have super strong contributions from the girls this year. Being on the same surf team with Chandler and Taylor is going to be great, and I’m really looking forward to a fun year.
Jettygirl: While your hard work and diligence brought you to the doorstep of the next stage of your lives, there is undoubtedly a trail of supporters, teachers, heroes and inspirational figures who played a part as well. If you’d like to give any of them a shout-out or to share a few thoughts about them, here’s your chance…
Heather: Thank you to my parents for believing in me and supporting me. Thanks Grandpa Wayne for encouraging me to go to always learn and travel.
I’d like to thank some great teachers and faculty members at Mira Costa College. Thank you to my teachers Lynne Miller and Patrick Connelly for being so excited about your subjects. You inspire your students so much. Thank you Rich Langen for being a great surf coach and for being there for the team. Thank you to Honors Coordinator Christopher Sleeper for having a vision for students in community college to not only reach their dreams and goals, but to reach even higher. Your vision has been carried out already and is constantly spreading.
All Photos © Chris Grant / Jettygirl.com