Many of the 417 undergraduate, graduate and seminary students who received degrees December 15 at the Fresno Pacific University fall commencement are the first in their family to graduate from a university and have overcome circumstances and perhaps expectations to see this day, President Pete C. Menjares, Ph.D., said during his addresses in the Special Events Center. Ceremonies were at 10:00 a.m. for 96 graduate (including seminary) and 54 traditional undergraduate students, and at 1:30 p.m. for 267 bachelor's degree completion students.
While faculty, staff and administrators have done their best to shape the students professionally and personally by instilling knowledge, virtue, faith and studiousness, FPU is one part of a lifelong process. "We have hope and faith that God will finish his work in us," Menjares said.
For the next steps in that process, graduates need:
- A prophetic witness—"I want to challenge you to continue to speak the truth in love, wherever God sends you," Menjares said. Graduates should avoid what Menjares called the "apathetic" or "pathetic" culture.
- A 21st century toolkit—A May Forbesarticle listed 10 jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago, including app developer, market research data miner and sustainability expert. "We are actually preparing you for jobs that don't yet exist. The world is changing and the world is changing fast."
- A work ethic—"That may not be what you want to hear right now," Menjares said, to laughter from graduates ready to celebrate, "but the world does reward those who work hard."
- A hopeful spirit—"You all have stories and the only one who can tell them is you. Nurture that spirit of hope by telling your story," Menjares said.
Menjares told the story of one particular work in progress. Before a certain young man was a year old, his father was killed. Before he was 10 his mother had remarried and divorced. The young man so struggled in upper elementary school that he was at times in special resource classes. His difficulties continued in high school and he graduated with a low grade-point average. Becoming a Christian at 18 did not immediately help the young man academically, as he failed his first semester in community college. Disheartened, he left school and studied the Bible on his own. Inspired, a couple of years later he tried again at the same community college. Mentored by professors, he got his first B, then As; transferring to a four-year institution, he graduated magna cum laude. The young man then earned a master's and Ph.D. and became a professor and administrator at a nationally known Christian university. What happened next? "Earlier this year, this young man was accepted as 11th president of Fresno Pacific University," Menjares said.