Mark Skovorodko, 2013 graduate, talks about his challenges and blessings during his years at Westmont
Trusting God’s Picture of Life
Mark Skovorodko played trumpet, French horn and piano as a student at Westmont. A talented photographer, he took professional pictures for weddings and college departments—and he excelled academically, earning the top award for the physics department. “He exemplifies the broad liberal arts graduate,” says Professor Warren Rogers.
“I’ve always loved solving problems,” Mark says. “My enjoyment of physics and photography emerges from this challenge; the nature of the problems just varies from one discipline to the other.”
Mark, whose father, Vitaliy, directs the college’s auto shop, wasn’t sure he wanted to study where his father worked or his older sister, Taisa Skovorodko ’07, had attended. “I got accepted to the civil engineering program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,” he says. “It took some nudging from my parents and God to get me here.”
“Looking back now, it’s obvious that God wanted me here,” he says. “The environment at Westmont encouraged my growth as a scholar, a musician and a Christian.”
The Skovorodkos emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1990 as religious refugees, settling in Santa Barbara. Mark grew up with Russian as his first language, and his family lived in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood for his first five years.
During junior high and high school, he traveled to Mexico with his church to build homes for underprivileged families. These experiences inspired Mark to learn Spanish. At Westmont, he served twice on Potter’s Clay and three times on Juntos.
During a semester in Spain, he lived in Seville with a Spanish family. He studied Spanish grammar, history and literature and served in a convent with orphaned and abandoned children. “It’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he says. “I was expected to teach English to troubled children but given no lesson plan or direction. The challenges of that experience taught me that I need to rely more on God.”
As a senior, Mark worked as a resident assistant in Van Kampen Hall. “I’ve always loved being mentored and mentoring others,” he says. “I grew during the year, overcoming stereotypes about people and learning to love the guys in my section.”
Mark continues to photograph weddings while he builds his portfolio and interns with a commercial photographer in Los Angeles. “I have so many things I love doing, and Westmont has helped me flourish in many of them,” he says. “I want to be faithful to God’s calling for my life, whether that means pursuing photography, physics or music. I’m excited to see God reveal His plans for my future.”