Diplomas symbolize not just an educational journey completed, graduates at Fresno Pacific University were told May 5—they are guides for the journey of life that lies ahead.
In "Signposts for the Journey," Howard Loewen's commencement address, the university provost laid seven navigational aids before the 416 graduates of the undergraduate college, graduate school and Center for Degree Completion. Ceremonies took place in the campus Special Events Center.
Loewen told his audience:
- Learning is a life-long journey toward growth, and growth means change.
- The journey of life involves growth of the whole person—body, soul, spirit—and that such growth inevitably involves pain, resistance and conflict.
- During the journey growth occurs at a maximum when we, as individuals and community, openly respect and interact with each other.
- The journey of life involves both/and thinking, not just either/or thinking.
- You have to strike a balance between doing and being.
- The journey of growth involves service to others.
- That this journey requires having a vision for your life.
"Honored graduates," he concluded, "today I have good news and I have better news for you. The good news is that you've arrived. The better news is that the journey has just begun."
Loewen joined the university faculty in 1995, first as academic vice president, then as provost. In both positions, he has been directly responsible for the academic programs of the university. Prior positions include three years as academic dean at Mennonite Brethren Biblical. He earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Winnipeg, a bachelor's in theology from Concord College and a master's in divinity and doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Student addresses were given by Cathy Taylor, undergraduate student body president; Renee Soto for the Center for Degree Completion; and Vicki Bigler for the graduate school.
Taylor, an English major, quoted T. S. Elliot's comment that education is a journey where "you return to the start and know the pace for the first time."
Bigler, who earned a master's in mathematics education, expressed gratitude for the chance to pursue a dream. Many who attend college hope to return, she said. "Guess what? I got to do it."
Soto, who majored in management and organizational development, recalled the support of friends and family and the guidance of faculty, "that has brought us to this day."
Academic awards went to Douglas Noll, Jaime Huss, Sarah Brown and Marla Ernest. Noll, who earned a master's degree in conflict management and peacemaking, received the Graduate Dean's Award. Huss and Brown, both English majors, were named outstanding graduates of the college. Ernest, also an English major, earned the highest grade-point average in the class.