La Sierra’s first prez advises graduates on success
June 22, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Religion professor and La Sierra University alum Fritz Guy had four key pieces of advice for La Sierra graduates, important things he learned since graduating in 1952.
Guy, a research professor of philosophical theology in La Sierra’s H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, served as keynote speaker for La Sierra’s commencement on June 17 that saw 343 graduates receive their degrees. Guy’s long history at La Sierra, which began in 1948 as a student, includes serving as La Sierra’s first president in 1990 after the campus separated from Loma Linda University.
On April 20, during Alumni Weekend, Guy was honored as Alumnus of the Year for his dedication to the school. Guy’s lengthy history as a pastor, evangelist and professor serving higher education and the Seventh-day Adventist Church includes functioning as secretary of the committee that drafted a new Statement of Fundamental Beliefs for the Seventh-day Adventist Church which was subsequently adopted during the 1980 General Conference session in Dallas, Texas.
“Wherever your future takes you—academically, professionally, geographically, romantically—whatever your genes, whatever has happened to you, whatever will happen to you, you can be successful as a person,” Guy told the graduates.
“You can be completely honest,” he said. “The Adventist heritage of this university includes the conviction that you can be persons who “in their inmost souls are true and honest,” he continued, quoting Ellen G. White, a founder of the Adventist denomination. “You will not all be rich or famous, but you can all be persons of integrity.”
Guy admonished graduates that no matter their circumstances, they can also keep learning, love generously and be happy. “Sixty years after getting a La Sierra degree, I can assure you of two things; there will be rain in your life; but the rain doesn’t have to keep you from dancing,” Guy said.
La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey encouraged the graduates in the future endeavors to “never stop seeking after truth,” and to stay close to God. “Bind yourself to the One who can heal the brokenhearted. …Never forget there is One who will never leave or forsake you,” he said. “In serving others you will find opportunity for true joy.”
La Sierra University commencement included recognition of Outstanding University Undergraduate Student Jonathan Davidson, Bachelor of Arts, business management, and Outstanding University Graduate Student Patrick Garrett York, Master of Arts, English.
La Sierra’s graduating class of 343 students arrived from 36 countries, represented 22 faiths and ranged in age from 21 – 66. Many parents and friends arrived from the region and flew in from around the world to watch their favorite graduates receive their hard-earned diplomas.
“It means a lot,” said graduate and Norco resident Jim Christianson, commenting on the significance of the day’s events. He posed for photos with family and friends after receiving his Master of Arts in counseling. He planned to begin another class the next day toward earning an Ed.S.
Biochemistry majors, twin sisters Nicole and Stephanie Mavingire celebrated not only their graduation, but a reunion with their parents whom they had not seen in five years. The elder Mavingires, Edmond and Caroline, arrived from the family’s homeland of Zimbabwe the week prior to graduation to witness their daughters’ achievement. The twins will next enroll at Loma Linda University Medical School. Their future goal is to establish a clinic in Zimbabwe.
“It was awesome,” said Nicole Mavingire of her time at La Sierra. “It was a wonderful opportunity. Taking classes together made their educational experiences all the more enjoyable, the sisters said, and they had some mischievous fun confusing the professors sometimes, laughed Nicole.
“I’m overwhelmed,” commented the twins’ mother, Caroline Mavingire when asked how she felt about the days’ happenings. “The dream for us was a Christian education,” added Edmond Mavingire. He said he interacted with the girls on Facebook and joked that he tracked of their activities on the social media site.
“I’m super excited. I’m finally graduating and I’m kind of nervous about what’s next,” said Ruth Ramon who earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry with a math minor. She plans to volunteer on a mission trip for a year in India, helping at an orphanage in the southern portion of the country.
Bermuda native Kristen Douglas said the arrival of commencement weekend was “bittersweet. I woke up Friday and felt tears come to my eyes,” because she would soon leave the comfort of familiarity and the intimacy of a smaller campus. She earned a Bachelor of Science in math and was surprised by a visit from her mentor, Michelle Spenser, who flew in for graduation. Spenser graduated from La Sierra in 2006 with a Master of Arts in counseling.
Jyoti Shah traveled from India to watch her son, Adi, graduate with a Master of Business Administration from the Zapara School of Business. “It’s a wonderful day and I’m proud of my son,” Shah said. The two kept in touch through email and Skype during Adi’s schooling. Adi described his experience at La Sierra as “wonderful, amazing. The school makes you feel like home.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University