Congratulations to all our December 2023 graduates! The journey of education is a transformative experience, and as students reached the culmination of their academic endeavors, they gathered to celebrate a momentous occasion known as commencement. This event marks the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, one filled with opportunities, challenges, and the promise of a bright future.
As graduates stand on the threshold of the future, commencement offers a moment of reflection. They reminisce about the late-night study sessions, the friendships forged, and the challenges overcome.
Three students were selected by the faculty to share their experiences at WPU. Julissa Montero fulfilled the role of Scripture Reader, reciting verses from Psalm 84:10-11. Miguel Anadalon-Ordaz, recognized for his leadership skills, academic excellence, and dedication to helping others, was chosen as the Traditional commencement speaker. In reflecting on his time at Warner Pacific, he emphasized the significance of personal growth within friendships, careers, and challenges. Miguel expressed, “Our journey here has been more than lectures and exams; it has been a transformative experience, and facing and overcoming challenges is integral to preparing for the future.”
Representing the Professional and Graduate Studies (PGS) students, Deanon Bradley-Rich delivered a powerful message reflecting on her journey as a Black woman returning to college as an adult. She shared, “When I contemplate my ‘Why,’ I am reminded of students who have never had a teacher who looks like them. Now, I have the opportunity to provide students with what I never had… Teaching is my calling, and education is my passion. I am fulfilling my purpose, born to inspire others, effect change, and encourage resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.”
The commencement address often serves as an opportunity for alums to impart wisdom, share anecdotes, and inspire the graduating class to embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. We were privileged to have D’Artagnan Caliman ‘96 as our commencement speaker at the ceremony. A proud Warner Pacific alum, Caliman is the Vice President of the 1803 Fund – a nonprofit aimed at strengthening prosperity and resources within the underserved Black community of Portland. Caliman shared valuable wisdom and encouragement with our graduates, emphasizing that life is a blessing and nothing is coincidental. He shared his personal journey, highlighting how his college experience paved the way for success and the fulfillment of his aspirations, ultimately impacting the lives of others. He urged graduates to view their pursuit of education at Warner Pacific University as a launchpad for their greatest achievements and a means to contribute positively to the world.
Additionally, Kara Griffey ‘08, Senior Development Officer at DoveLewis, and our esteemed alumni speaker, offered insights beyond the hustle of career advancement. Griffey encouraged graduates to recognize the precious and fleeting nuances of life, emphasizing the importance of actively working on their life resume. She suggested:
- Identifying and naming personal values and being open to realignments and changes.
- Devoting time regularly to passion projects.
- Connecting with curiosity and joy.
- Celebrating personal victories.
- Investing time in diverse relationships.
- Acknowledging that the journey won’t be linear, allowing for a personalized pace and style.
As graduates contemplate their life resumes, Griffey reminded them to dream big and take note of their aspirations, embracing their unique paths to achieving them.
While the formal education journey may be concluding, commencement emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning. The commencement ceremony is not an endpoint but a starting point for a journey of continuous growth and discovery – and of following God’s will. Graduates are encouraged to look to Christ, pray always, remain curious and adaptable, and remain committed to seeking their higher calling.
From all of us at Warner Pacific University, we wish all our graduates the very best in their future endeavors. Congratulations to the class of 2023!