Riverside, Calif. — Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, president of California Baptist University, congratulated 1,940 graduating students during commencement ceremonies at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, on May 6.
Afternoon exercises included 850 traditional undergraduate degree candidates, while the evening ceremony honored 1,090 students, including all master’s degree candidates, as well as undergraduates from Online and Professional Studies programs.
Combined with students who graduated last December, the Class of 2017 totals 2,554 applications for graduation, the largest number for a single year in CBU history.
Ellis noted that the class was part of a record 9,157 students enrolled at CBU in the 2016-2017 academic year.
“Each of these graduating students has arrived at this point because of a shared commitment to the challenging yet rewarding endeavor of higher education. Each one has overcome obstacles to achieve this goal,” Ellis said. “We congratulate each one of you. The faculty and the entire university family join me in saying we are proud of you, and we pray God’s blessings upon you.”
Bruce Hitchcock, CBU vice president emeritus, was the commencement speaker. Hitchcock, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and author of nine books, currently serves as a church growth specialist with the Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association. Hitchcock told the students that coming to CBU was a good decision.
“You made the right choice when you decided to come to CBU. You made a good choice when you decided to study and persevere to get here today,” Hitchcock said. “Now, from this point on, the life choices you make will continue to get more difficult.”
Hitchcock emphasized two concepts he has used to make life’s decisions—spiritual honesty and spiritual integrity. Hitchcock defined spiritual honesty as adhering to God’s truth and spiritual integrity as steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
“My challenge to you today is very simple: choose to practice a life of spiritual honesty. Choose to live a life of spiritual integrity,” Hitchcock said. “Now, go out, and with God’s help and direction, ‘Live Your Purpose.’”
Awards for student achievement were presented at both ceremonies. Nadia Mugisha, an engineering major from Africa, received the Min Sung Kim International Student Award, and Christopher Sands, an aviation management major from Camarillo, California, received CBU’s Outstanding Senior Award. Dawn Taylor, from Alta Loma, California, and who works with special needs children for an elementary school, was honored with the Outstanding Online and Professional Studies Student Award. Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.