Some travel far to graduate from Fresno Pacific University December 11

Two ceremonies and world-traveling grads are among the highlights of Fresno Pacific University’s fall commencement Saturday, December 11.

Graduate and traditional undergraduate commencement begins at 10:00 a.m. Bachelor’s degree completion students will receive their diplomas at 3:00 p.m. This is the first time since fall commencements began in 2004 that there has been more than one ceremony.

Both commencements will be in the Special Events Center on the main FPU campus, 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno, south of the Chestnut-Butler intersection. Degrees will be given to 284 new graduates: 175 from bachelor’s degree completion, 47 from the traditional undergraduate program and 62 from master’s programs.

Some graduates will come from a distance. Eight members of the online master’s in kinesiology plan to attend from out of state—far out of state: three from Guam, two from Seattle and one each from Boston, Denver and Chicago.

Sharon Stanley, founder and executive director of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM), will be the speaker at both ceremonies. FIRM is a nonprofit agency serving more than 6,500 Southeast Asian, Slavic and African refugees. Programs include family mentoring and support, employment projects, community gardens and help for older adults. FIRM’s mission is “Sharing Christ’s love to build communities of hope with new Americans.”

Stanley says FIRM’s work is particularly relevant in Fresno, where immigrants make up at least 50 percent of the population and which has one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the United States. She has an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree is from Columbia Theological Seminary.

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