Faithful in Little and in Much

by Shannon Linton

Although they attended Azusa Pacific during different decades, come from varied backgrounds, and followed distinct paths, these APU graduates share a striking similarity—they faithfully give back to their alma mater. Knowing that every gift makes a lasting difference, they each give out of their deep commitment to APU according to their ability. These loyal alumni, all deeply changed by their education at a university that puts God First, honor that experience by supporting the students who follow them.

As part of a longtime trend known as loyalty giving, Randy ’76, M.A. ’78 and Barbara (Schreur ’77) Rozema; John and Julie (Simoni ’81, M.A. ’85) Wilson; David Tous ’88; and Tage ’98 and Jodi (Elson ’97, M.A. ’12) Peterson build upon their personal connection to their alma mater. These alumni give to the university year after year, demonstrating a commitment to its future and an understanding that every gift, no matter the size, impacts the students who attend APU.

“These gifts provide a foundation from which APU can support its students and their experiences in the classroom, on the field, or on mission trips,” said Corbin Hoornbeek, senior director of development in the Office of University Advancement at APU. “For example, this past fiscal year, 3,839 people gave a total of $600,000 to send APU students on mission trips, with the average gift totaling $155,” he said. “Everyone can help make a difference for our students and for people around the world, and our donors can see that.”

“When we were students at APU, we saw people giving whatever amount they could, and Barbara and I benefitted from that through scholarships,” said Randy Rozema.

“We were challenged intellectually and spiritually during our years at APU,” Barbara said. “We love the people and the vision that make APU what it is.” The owners of Party Plus and Party Plus Rentals in Redlands, the Rozemas have found many opportunities to give over the years, including sharing their hospitality with those in need. “We give what we can,” Barbara said, “and we trust that APU will use that to create a legacy of faith for future generations.”

For Tous, the life lessons he received as a business administration major resonated with him. “APU develops students for the real world, growing their understanding of who Jesus Christ is, while also allowing for failure and success in academics,” he explained. Now the senior managing partner at the Law Offices of Tous and Associates in Southern California, Tous sees firsthand the value of weaving his faith into the real world. “Being a part of a community of students challenged to do much more than just graduate made a big impact on me,” said Tous. “I give back to APU because God calls us to give—and I can see that Azusa Pacific is a place that encourages students to live out their faith every day.”

Julie Wilson remembers a crucial moment during her undergraduate years when she needed encouragement and support. Her tuition bill had arrived and she didn’t feel she could ask her mom, a widow, for any additional money. President Jon R. Wallace, DBA, then an associate dean, noticed Julie’s tears and helped her find a solution to the situation. “I have never forgotten that moment,” Julie said. “If we can take that stress off students and help them develop their passions, then it’s totally worth it for me.” She went on to explain that her time at Azusa Pacific allowed her to hone her gift of problem solving, which she uses daily as a human resources consultant and owner of Lighthouse Learning. Because of Julie’s experience and the unwavering mission of the university, both Julie and her husband, John, stand behind the mission of APU. “We’ve made a commitment to give in any way we can,” she said. “The amount doesn’t matter—we’re just so grateful for the work APU is doing.”

For Tage Peterson and his wife, Jodi, Azusa Pacific represented the kind of school where you didn’t have to sacrifice education or spirituality. Tage entered APU on a track scholarship, benefitting from a top-notch decathlete program as he learned what it meant to be a Christian athlete. Jodi received an academic scholarship.

“Without those scholarships, APU and all the incredible experiences that came with it would not have been an option for us,” Jodi explained. “We knew that someone out there cared enough about making a difference for us as students to write a check.”

Tage works as an insurance broker and Jodi as a psychotherapist, but they didn’t wait until they had their feet under them to give back. “We started giving right after we graduated,” Tage said. “For us, it’s God’s money and we know He can use it to make a big impact.”

Jodi agreed, adding, “We want to see people receive the same opportunities we did. We’re pouring back into the mission of the university for the students there now and for those who will join us in carrying on the Azusa Pacific legacy of putting God First.”

Shannon Linton ’07 is a freelance writer and editor living in Covina, California.

Originally published in the Winter '12 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.