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06/05/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

La Sierra University’s 367 graduates will hear an inspirational commencement message Sun., June 15 from the president of Sahmyook University in South Korea, one of the largest universities in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

President Sang Lae Kim, Sahmyook University, Seoul, South Korea
Audrey Shaffer, archaeology volunteer and international health care consultant will receive the honorary Doctor of Humanitarian Service degree. (Photo by Natan Vigna)

Graduation will begin at 8 a.m. on La Sierra University Founders’ Green and will include an address titled  “Why Not Challenge the Full Marathon of Your Life?” by Sahmyook’s President Sang Lae Kim.

La Sierra University, with approximately 2,500 students, is a Seventh-day Adventist institution. The Adventist worldwide denomination consists of nearly 18 million members and operates one of the largest Christian school systems in the world. Adventist Church-run Sahmyook University in Metropolitan Seoul, South Korea, has more than 5,700 students, making it one of the top five universities in the denomination by enrollment.

Kim earned degrees at Sahmyook University as well as a doctorate in Old Testament studies and Jewish literature at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. In 2000 he received a full scholarship from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom, an advocacy organization now called Universities UK.

Sahmyook and La Sierra share a three-part agreement that includes guaranteed scholarships for qualified students transferring to La Sierra from Sahmyook, and for La Sierra students transferring to Sahmyook. The agreement also provides a significant discount for Sahmyook students participating in a program that requires outstanding academic ability along with a good command of the English language. 

“The collaboration between Sahmyook and La Sierra signifies the depth of the long-standing relationship between the institutions,” said Dave Lofthouse, La Sierra’s vice president of Enrollment Services. “Sahmyook students make a wonderful contribution to our community as they are eager to learn and to contribute to the vast cultural landscape of the La Sierra campus.” 

Commencement will also include the presentation of awards to those whose contributions and achievements have proven exemplary. Corona resident Audrey Shaffer, a long-time volunteer with La Sierra’s archaeology program and a consultant to international health care organizations around the world will receive this year’s Doctor of Humanitarian Service honorary degree.

Shaffer, a registered health information administrator, attended La Sierra for two years before receiving a bachelor’s degree in health information in 1973 from Loma Linda University. Her extensive background includes serving as an assistant clinical professor in health information management at Loma Linda as well as an international health care organization consultant and volunteer in at least 14 countries. She also established the Audrey Shaffer Scholarship Endowment to help cover students’ travel expenses to international sites for clinical training. 

In addition, she has participated in 30 seasons of archaeological research in Jordan, Israel and elsewhere. These included six trips to the La Sierra University excavations at Tall al-‘Umayri near Amman, Jordan where she served as square supervisor, data control officer and pottery registrar. At La Sierra’s Center for Near Eastern Archaeology Shaffer’s current weekly tasks in the collections lab include cataloging thousands of objects dating from 3,000 B.C.

La Sierra’s commencement will cap a weekend of activities that begins Fri., June 13 with a consecration service at 8 p.m. A noon baccalaureate service on Sat., June 14 at the La Sierra University Church will feature guest speaker Hyveth Williams, professor of homiletics at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Michigan. La Sierra’s School of Education and H.M.S. Richards Divinity School will hold dedication ceremonies for their graduates in the afternoon followed by a Commencement Concert at 6 p.m. in La Sierra’s Hole Memorial Auditorium.

For further information visit Friday’s consecration service, the Saturday morning baccalaureate and Sunday’s commencement will be live streamed at