Jesper Evensen was sitting alone in his car when he got the call. The news he heard next rendered him speechless.
“I only applied to Georgetown and I got in,” Evensen recalls. “And that was the best feeling in the world.”
Evensen, a 22-year-old Boyle Heights resident, graduated as part of Cal State LA’s Class of 2021 with a 3.62 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an option in management from the College of Business and Economics. He will be attending Georgetown University starting in August to pursue a Master of Science in Management at the McDonough School of Business.
Evensen describes that phone call as a moment of “pure joy.” It’s a feeling, he says, that comes only when he achieves something truly fulfilling or helps others accomplish their goals.
“The outside world doesn’t exist anymore,” he explains. “Nothing else matters, only being happy and savoring that moment.”
It’s a feeling that Evensen has chased since his days playing youth soccer.
Growing up in Larvik, Norway, Evensen was immediately immersed in soccer. His parents were both successful players, with his father playing the sport professionally into his mid-30s. After exploring handball for a couple years—and quickly realizing it wasn’t for him—Evensen settled into soccer as his sport of choice.
From club and academy teams, to winning the under-19 national tournament in Norway, Evensen continued to taste the joy of success. Then, when a longtime goal to attend school in the United States materialized with the promise of continuing his soccer career, Evensen jumped at the opportunity to come stateside.
“It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.”
After a year at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Evensen transferred to Cal State LA, where he found his true fit with the Golden Eagles men’s soccer team and within the university community.
Whether incessantly drilling penalty kicks at practice, or helping distribute 500 weekly meals at the Montebello-Commerce YMCA community food bank, Evensen positioned his own markers of success in relation to how strongly those achievements helped others.
On the field, Evensen communicated with teammates in their primary languages to prevent information from being lost in translation. A polyglot, Evensen might call out in any of six languages during high-pressure moments—frequently tapping into his knowledge of Spanish and German on the pitch.
Evensen would take time to help new international teammates navigate their transition to college and inform them of the academic resources available to them. Eventually he served as a member of the team’s leadership group, tasked with running the soccer program alongside the Golden Eagles coaches.
“Jesper is loved by his teammates because of his ability to observe and lend a helping hand or ear to a teammate in need,” says Cal State LA head coach Chris Chamides. “Jesper always found a way to motivate and lead each individual on the team, from the inexperienced freshman to our older All-Americans.”
Evensen’s compassionate leadership emulates a fraternity shown to him when he was a 15-year-old soccer player. He recalls senior players showing him where to find his clothes and gear, teaching him the head coach’s “do’s and don’ts” and taking him home on occasion when he wasn’t yet old enough to drive.
Those small moments of generosity helped him find personal success, a gift he naturally finds joy in paying forward.
In a course on managerial leadership, Professor Ronald Glickman helped Evensen learn about his own personality in the context of communication with others. It was a topic Evensen soaked up, earning the top grade in the class.
“He has the intellectual horsepower and has demonstrated the emotional intelligence to make meaning grow from new experiences and thrive,” Glickman says. “But I am most impressed by Jesper’s intellectual curiosity.”
In between earning annual Dean’s List honors and receiving academic awards from the California Collegiate Athletic Association, Evensen routinely challenges himself to learn new skills like coding. It’s the way that the self-described jack-of-all-trades prepares himself for the challenges ahead.
As he looks forward to his program at Georgetown, Evensen drives toward a future in consulting, with the goal of creating capital allocation solutions for companies in finance or technology.
“If you are able to provide a solution that gives other people success,” he says, “that’s a rewarding feeling. That’s the feeling I’m chasing.”
On a chilly night in December 2019, Evensen captured it for the Golden Eagles for a final time at University Stadium.
After nestling the ball onto the penalty spot, Evensen took eight steps back and exhaled.
A blast past the goalkeeper would win the night’s penalty shootout and send the unbeaten Cal State LA men’s soccer team to the NCAA Division II Super Region 4 Final.
“It’s just like practice,” he reminded himself.
At the referee’s whistle, Evensen charged forward and buried his shot in the right-side goal netting, sending University Stadium into pandemonium. With outstretched arms, he soared toward the corner flag, savoring the moment before turning to receive his stampeding teammates.
He had found that feeling once again.
# # #
California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.