An unusual word illustrated a concept all too familiar to Fresno Pacific University students and the rest of the world during commencement ceremonies May 8.

Some 945 new graduates and their families heard about the biblical term “hupomone” from speaker James Cecy, D.Min., (pictured) senior pastor of Campus Bible Church, Fresno. “It sounds like ‘heap of money,’ but let me assure you, that a heap of money isn’t going to get you through these days,” he said.

A Greek term, “hupomone” means steadfastness, constancy and endurance. While congratulating graduates and their loved ones for all they had gone through to celebrate the day, Cecy cautioned commencement is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning—sometimes the hard way. “Hupomone doesn’t avoid life’s harsh circumstances, it learns from them,” he said.

Remembering his past making and selling ice cream, Cecy warned graduates that, like their favorite flavor on a hot day, sometimes in life they will need a double—even a triple—scoop of hupomone. “You’ll need hupomone in the workplace, you’ll need it in your marriage, you’ll need it when you raise children…you’ll need it in your jobs, you’ll need it in your ministries around the world,” he said.

Cecy suggested three sources of hupomone:

  • God, who will point the faithful to Jesus Christ. “May the lord direct you heart to the love of God, and to the steadfastness of Christ,” he said. “I trust that in these days ahead you will grow even deeper, not only in your knowledge of God, but in your intimacy with his son.”
  • Trials, which bring perseverance, while perseverance brings about proven character and proven character brings about hope. “I don’t like trials, but I’ve come to appreciate what trials have produced in me,” Cecy said. “Trials are hupomone factories.”
  • From people we know and love who have endured great challenges. They will be graduates’ great cloud of witnesses helping them run the race set before them, he said. “God will allow us to go through tough times, so we’ll become prophets of hupomone and join the cloud of witnesses for others. They are our hupomone mentors.”

The main hinderance to hupomone is sin, especially the sin of materialism—that choice between hupomone and the love of a heap of money. Cecy asked graduates to choose what they would chase after in life. “That’s a great graduation promise to yourself,” he said.


Graduate, faculty and community awards were announced during commencement:

  • Nickel Excellence in Teaching Award (NETA)—Melanie Howard, Ph.D., assistant professor and program director of biblical and theological studies.
  • Highest GPA (traditional undergraduate program)—Kassandra Elise Klein, B.A., in English with a secondary teaching emphasis; B.A. in Intercultural Studies with a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) emphasis.
  • Harold H. Haak Academic Achievement Award (to a member of the Alpha Chi Academic Honor Society, named for former FPU president Harold Haak, Ph.D., and provided by his wife, Betty, and the family)—Sheyla J. Castillo, B.A. in Criminal Justice.
  • Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary 2021 Service Award—Live Again Fresno, a community group working with youth and families in the Parkway area. Richard Burrell is the director.

Spring 2021 Outstanding Graduates

Fresno Pacific University Outstanding Graduates are recognized for their academic achievement, Christian character, leadership potential, service to others and embodiment of the Fresno Pacific Idea. More on the graduates at

School of Humanities, Religion & Social Sciences

Marvin Santos, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish

Kassandra Klein, Bachelor of Arts in English: Secondary Teaching and Intercultural Studies: TESOL

School of Natural Sciences

Joshua Jones, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, Pre-PT/OT emphasis

Brittany Nielsen, Bachelor of Art in Pre-Health Sciences

School of Education

Byan Younes, Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts

Timothy Ryan, Master of Arts in Administrative Services

School of Business

Matthew Wilfong, Bachelor of Science in Management and Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Christian Ministries

Clint Harris, Master of Business Administration

Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary

Connie Nicholson, Master of Arts in New Testament

Pam Yang, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The ceremony, virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, included elements of a traditional commencement, including the announcement of the graduates’ names, music and remarks from FPU President Joseph Jones, Ph.D., and other staff and faculty. View commencement at

In all, 537 students completed the bachelor’s degree completion program, 227 received master’s degrees (including 37 from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary) and 187 earned their bachelor’s degree in the traditional undergraduate program. Seminary and traditional program courses are based at the main FPU campus in Southeast Fresno, while graduate and degree completion programs originate from regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. Some 48 of the participants graduated in the fall of 2020 but chose to take part in the spring 2021 commencement. Graduates who registered were mailed diploma covers, commencement programs and other items they would have gotten at the ceremony and were encouraged to celebrate with family and friends.













Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations