Chaminade College Preparatory inducted four alumni into the Alumni Hall of Fame: Andrew Ellis ’07, Melissa Lewis ’02, Michael Rubino ’94, and Abigail Villena ’89. Family, friends, and alumni gathered to celebrate their achievements at The Tutor Family Center for the Performing Arts on the West Hills campus on Saturday, February 4. Over the years, Chaminade has recognized nearly 130 alumni for their professional achievements, dedication to the school, and service to the community.
Andrew Ellis graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 2007. While at Chaminade, he was involved in the Film program and was a Link leader. Andrew credits Chaminade with providing a spiritual and moral foundation for his work. In particular, Paula LaBrot was “the mother and mentor that instilled a sense of purpose and wonder in me,” Andrew says.
After graduation, Andrew attended NYU’s film school and graduated in 2011. Since then, he has traveled the world making films that insightfully capture the struggles and accomplishments of his varied subjects. He has spent the last 12 years creating documentaries for nongovernmental organizations and non-profits in Africa, the Middle East, and India. These included films on such subjects as Syrian refugee camps, slavery in Ghana, exploitive labor practices in India’s textile industry, and the experiences of American soldiers with PTSD. Andrew’s films have been featured at Sundance, SXSW, CNN, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and TIME Magazine. In 2016, while working as the Director of Photography at MediaStorm, he was named “Multimedia Photographer of the Year” by Pictures of the Year International.
Next to filmmaking, his biggest passion is teaching. You can find Andrew behind the scenes mentoring young filmmakers in most productions worldwide. He has also taught workshops at NYU, Vassar, and Columbia.
Andrew’s advice for current and future students: “Looking back on my time in high school, I am deeply aware that there are many things worth listening to. Even if you don’t always appreciate them, the religious teachings you receive at Chaminade can create a unique moral framework in our world. Give it some time, and you will appreciate it.”
Lieutenant Colonel Melissa Lewis graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 2002. While at Chaminade, she was a leader on Ambassadors, Link, and Student Council. In her senior year, Melissa was the Associated Student Body President.
The prominent faculty who impacted Melissa were Debbie (Berko) Jeffreys, Jennifer Poole, Ben LaBrot, and Bob Di Conti.
After Chaminade, Melissa attended the University of Puget Sound on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as a Military Police Second Lieutenant after graduation (2006). She later attended Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, graduating with a master’s in 2016.
Melissa has deployed twice to Iraq and has completed missions in Turkey, Israel, Poland, Kosovo, and Bulgaria. During her time in Germany, she was awarded the MacArthur award for leadership. This award is given to individuals who demonstrate the ideals of “Duty, Honor, Country” and have proven a record of extraordinary performance, leadership, and achievement.
Currently, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis is assigned to the Pentagon. She works on the Joint Staff in Strategy, Plans, and Policy, focusing on how the Department of Defense can direct efforts and resources to humanitarian issues facing Ukraine. Her second responsibility is leading the Joint Staff’s Women, Peace, and Security team.
Melissa encourages current and future students to open themselves to new experiences and people. “Find a new buddy to work on a class project together, try a new club or activity, engage with others who think differently, and find the beauty in the diversity of others.”
Michael Rubino graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 1994. While at Chaminade, he was involved in band, choir, and drama. His best memories are from the times he spent with friends after school at rehearsals or performing. Faculty that significantly influenced him were Greg Klee, Paula LaBrot, Susanna Newkirk, Terry Cano, and John Fennell.
After Chaminade, Michael went to UCLA and majored in music composition. He also studied privately with industry greats. After college, Michael started his career as a music editor for FOX Family Channel. He later became active in writing music for film and TV.
You can hear his music in film trailers for movies such as “Frozen” and “Planes: Fire and Rescue,” television shows like “Survivor” and “Days of our Lives,” commercials for Toyota and Panasonic, or video games such as “Sports Champions” for PlayStation.
Michael’s most recent work was composing the score for Nickelodeon’s hit series “It’s Pony.” He is currently working on music for Disneyland’s newly remodeled Toon Town. He loves doing his take on classic Disney tunes and writing new music to create the Disney experience.
Michael’s advice for current and future Chaminade students is, “Whatever field you decide to study later on, everything you learn at Chaminade will be useful. Even though I am in music, I use what I learned in math, literature, history, and other classes regularly. Without the rounded learning I received, I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability.”
Abigail Villena graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 1989. During her time at Chaminade, she led the women’s tennis team to a CIF Championship in her senior year. Abigail was the number one singles player. She received All-Mission League, and All-CIF honors all four years while playing at Chaminade. She won the San Fernando Valley League’s MVP in 1988.She credits Father Allen DeLong, Brother Ed, and her tennis coach, Sue Lynn, for inspiring her in high school.
After graduation, Abigail received scholarships from Ohio State and UNLV. She chose to attend Ohio State and played all four years. She was All-Big 10 in her junior and senior years. She also received All-American Scholar-Athlete awards and Big 10 Academic Honors. Playing #1 singles and #1 doubles, Abigail earned a berth in the NCAA Championship in 1992. This accomplishment was a first in Buckeye history. After college, Abigail competed on the professional tour for three years before relocating to Southern California to become a tennis instructor.
Abigail’s philanthropic achievements include heading up H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everywhere) for the kid’s tennis program. This program allows underprivileged kids to earn a college education through tennis scholarships. She helps young teens focus on academics while teaching them the athletic skills they need to succeed in tennis.
Abigail is a professional tennis instructor and head pro at the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Long Beach. She has been on the Wilson advisory staff for 25 years and is on the Tecnifibre Select Team.
She coaches a USTA women’s team, conducts various clinics for adults, and enjoys teaching young athletes to improve their game.
Abigail’s advice for current and future Chaminade students: “Make the most of your time at Chaminade, leaving it a better place than when you arrived. Inspire teammates, thank your teachers, and always do your best.”