Crossing the Stage into the Future

by Kate Sullivan '15

As graduation season approaches, the class of 2014 anxiously awaits the momentous steps across a stage, symbolizing the end of their college journey and the beginning of God’s next chapter in their lives. On Saturday, May 3, Azusa Pacific University confers degrees upon 840 undergraduate students, 520 graduate students, 12 doctoral students, and 192 adult and professional studies students.

Like many about to don a cap and gown, Elyse Hagen, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Health, expressed mixed feelings, “Graduation for me is bittersweet; bitter because I will miss this loving and amazing APU community, but sweet because I am excited to go out and achieve my dreams!” Hagen plans to earn a graduate degree and pursue a career as a physical therapist. She feels that APU prepared her well for her post-graduate life. “Overall, the university taught me that a single individual can make a difference, and empowered me to pursue all that God has for me.”

Casey Mangan also anticipates an exciting journey ahead, after he graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. As a Fulbright scholar, Mangan will move to Turkey to teach English at a university. He feels APU professors and staff equipped him for life after graduation by encouraging him to go out into the world and gain crosscultural experience during college. Through a semester with the L.A. Term and studying abroad in South Africa, Mangan grew culturally, intellectually, and spiritually, preparing him for his time in Turkey. “These last four years have shaped me in more ways than I will ever know. I take away knowledge, wisdom, and a community of people that I will continue to cherish and be a part of throughout my life,” said Mangan.

APU spring 2014 undergraduates will celebrate this milestone over a full weekend for the first time in university history.Events include a baccalaureate and alumni initiation ceremony the night before Commencement. The baccalaureate program, held in Felix Event Center on Friday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m., includes student-chosen APU faculty, and a worship service that recognizes the work of God in the graduates’ lives. The evening culminates in a candela ceremony led by President Jon R. Wallace, DBA, mirroring the moment the graduates’ journey began during freshman orientation.

Baccalaureate is not the only addition this year. At the beginning of the fall 2013 school year, students passed through a newly constructed gate. Wallace and his son, Matthew ’06, MBA ’10, created the gate that serves as the entrance for new students to walk through at orientation and then pass through again to mark graduation. “My dad thought of this tangible symbol,” said Matthew. “He loves the rich traditions found throughout higher education and envisioned creating a unique one here at APU that would encourage students to begin with the end in mind." The roughly 1,000-pound gate comprised of steel and embellished with a bronze university seal appeared at fall and spring orientation and winter graduation. For Matthew, the gate symbolizes a richness of relationship. “This was a meaningful opportunity for my father and I to work together as professionals creating something with a lasting legacy for an institution that has played such a pivotal role in both our lives,” he said.

Spring 2014 Commencement schedule for Sat., May 3:

  • Doctorate, master’s, adult and professional studies, RN to BSN, and ELM bachelor’s degree candidates’ commencement starts at 9 a.m. in the Cougar Athletic Stadium with a concert by the University Choir and Orchestra,. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m.
  • Traditional bachelor’s degree candidates' commencement starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Cougar Athletic Stadium with the Presentation of Colors by Azusa Pacific University’s ROTC Color Guard and a concert by the University Choir and Orchestra. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m.