Diversity grads inspired to have courage
May 27, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
“The prayers we pray God answers,” Tricia Penniecook told a church audience and rows of soon-graduating university seniors at Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside. “And sometimes the answer is us.”
In a talk titled “Will You Have the Courage?” Penniecook, dean of Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health, delivered a poignant message about the biblical story of Ruth. She described the extraordinary risks Ruth took to care for her mother-in-law and to ultimately become Boaz’s wife placing her in the lineage of Jesus. “It’s about what risky thing do I have to do? What commitment do I have to make?” Penniecook said.
Penniecook’s presentation served as a the keynote message for the La Sierra University and Loma Linda University consecration service for diversity graduates held May 21. Randal Wisbey and Richard Hart, respective presidents of La Sierra and Loma Linda universities jointly selected Penniecook to deliver the morning’s message. Click here for a slide show of the Sabbath School and church service.
The morning-long service began with a Sabbath School led by La Sierra students and faculty. La Sierra University biology professor Dr. Eugene Joseph gave a talk and PowerPoint presentation on the week’s Sabbath School lesson while the La Sierra University praise team led song service. La Sierra University student and pianist Israel Flores performed special music and La Sierra students Keith Ybanez and Chelsea Johnson gave opening and closing prayers, respectively, while La Sierra student Beverly Maravilla gave the call for offering.
The worship service began with a processional of faculty and administrators from both universities attired in academic regalia, followed by soon-to-be graduates of both universities. Administrators and faculty from both universities led various sections of the service.
The La Sierra University Chamber Singers performed renditions of the spirituals “Swing Down Chariot” and “Precious Lord” directed by Dr. E. Earl Richards II, director of choral studies.
Toward the end of the service both universities held special recognitions for students from each institution. Senior pre-med major Chelsea Johnson received a plaque from La Sierra’s Black Student Association. The university’s Hispanic Student Association recognized Jaqueline del Castillo who did not attend the service. The students were honored for their “determination to fulfill [their] academic goals and contributions to the campus community,” according to the associations.
“It is an honor to be numbered with all the other students who have gone before me in receiving this recognition,” Johnson said. “I am touched and grateful for the acknowledgement of the Black Student Association and La Sierra University faculty who throughout my undergraduate career has been my inspiration.”
Rebecca Barcelo, a senior communications major received an award from La Sierra for “extraordinary leadership and contributions to the campus community,” her plaque reads.
None of the award recipients were aware prior to the service that they had been selected to receive such recognition. Barcelo had just presented La Sierra’s response to the keynote speaker’s message and had sat down when she heard her name called to come back up to the platform. “I had no idea it was coming,” she said. “I was humbled and honored to receive it and it was a really nice surprise.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University