Oregon State Representative Ricki Ruiz, WPU Class of 2016, to deliver Keynote

PORTLAND, OR —  Warner Pacific University, the most diverse Christian university in the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s first university to be federally designated as a Hispanic Serving, Minority Serving Institution, will host two commencement ceremonies Saturday, December 17, in McGuire Auditorium on the WPU campus (a 9 a.m. ceremony and a 1 p.m. ceremony).

“It’s the moment WPU students and loved ones have looked forward to for years as the culmination of their academic accomplishment and beginning of a rewarding career,” said President Brian Johnson. “We are so impressed by our students’ persistence during these pandemic years, and deeply proud of their Christian commitment to values of service and leadership. The world needs our graduates…we could not be more honored to be sending more multicultural, faith-filled leaders into the very professions that need them the most.”

Representative Ricki Ruiz, WPU Class of 2016, will deliver the keynote address for both ceremonies. One of the youngest state legislators to be elected in the State of Oregon, Rep. Ruiz represents Oregon House District 50 – Gresham and East Portland which covers the indigenous lands of Chinook and Cowlitz tribes. Elected in the 2020 election cycle, Rep. Ruiz was one of a historic record of 12 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color legislators elected to the Oregon House and Senate. Born in Portland, he grew up in Gresham where he was proudly raised by immigrant parents who made Oregon their forever home. During the 2021 Legislative Long Session and 2022 Legislative Short Session, Rep. Ruiz served on the House Committees on Education, Economic Recovery and Prosperity, Human Services (Vice-Chair), and the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education. Most recently, Rep. Ruiz has been appointed to serve on the Hunger Taskforce and the Taskforce for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education.

Reverend Andria Skornik, WPU Class of 2005, will deliver the welcome to new alumni and alumnae for both ceremonies. She is currently the Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland, where she, with her husband and two sons, also lives. A Portland native, Rev. Skornik received her B.A. in Communication Arts from Warner Pacific, followed by a post-baccalaureate degree in Philosophy from the University of Oregon. She accepted her call to All Saints after spending a decade in the Chicago area, where she received her M.Div. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, with training in Anglican Studies from Seabury Western, and served two congregations thereafter. Rev. Skornik is honored to serve on the Warner Pacific University Board of Trustees.

Winter 2022 Class Highlights

President Johnson will present degrees to 131 graduates this winter, including 34 Master’s degrees; 95 Bachelor’s degrees, and two Associate’s degrees. The 9 a.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the Arts Division; Social and Behavioral Sciences Division; Business Division; and Social Work Division. The 1 p.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the Education Division; Natural Sciences and Health Division; and Nursing Division.

Students range in age from 21 to 68, with the average age of 33. WPU’s oldest graduate this year will receive a Master’s in Education one day following his 68th birthday.

“Our students come from all stages of life, and often have overcome great adversity to reach this milestone,” said Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Miriam Chitiga. “Whether they are a traditional college-goer, or an adult student returning to achieve a new goal, we strive to walk with each and every one of our students and to empower them to fulfill their personal calling. We absolutely couldn’t be more proud of our graduates.”

Graduating Student Profiles

Graduate Yodit Tesfaluel will serve as a Student Speaker during the ceremony. Yodit is well-known at WPU both for her passion in honoring and encouraging others and for her commitment to uplifting diverse and underserved populations. She is an inspiration to junior WPU nursing students through her volunteer work at Providence Portland Medical Center, the American Red Cross, and in the WPU skills lab. Yodit is currently studying for the National Council Licensure Examination and has accepted a position at Legacy Good Sam in the ER New Grad Residency Program. 

Graduate Mauricio Sanchez will serve a Scripture Reader during the ceremony. While he may have come to WPU to play soccer, Mauricio will graduate with a love of learning and the support of so many WPU faculty and staff who have transformed his life. “When I first came here, I was not academically ‘that’ student,” said Mauricio. “But I pushed myself to get better and to communicate with professors that I needed help.”

Graduate Ashley Pugh will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and has earned the honor of cum-laude. As a transfer student, Ashley answered God’s calling to come to Warner. “Being part of a smaller campus community allows you to get the help and guidance you need and gives you the feeling of family and unity,” she said. Admired by her professors for her tenacity, talent and skill, Ashley landed a job at East County Business Bridge, a community partnership that helps underserved owners develop their businesses. She feels called to help others through tutoring and plans to develop her own tutoring company as well.

Attendance Information
Guest tickets are required for entry. For those unable to attend in person, the ceremonies will be available via live-stream at https://www.warnerpacific.edu/commencement/. For those requiring ADA accommodations, a drop-off and pick-up zone is located on 68th avenue and attendants will be available to assist with locating accessible seating.