FPU graduates hear from educator, pastor Juan Martínez
FPU press release
God gives each of his followers a dream—Fresno Pacific University (FPU) graduates were urged to find theirs and find happiness during commencement May 8. FPU is the Mennonite Brethren university headquartered in Fresno, Calif.
“What dreams has God put on your life as you graduate?” asked featured speaker Juan Martínez, whose speech, “Dreaming God’s Dream,” was based on Revelation 7:9-10. “What is your vocation, your unique contribution to our world, our society?” asked Martínez.
Martínez, vice provost, academic director of the Hispanic Center and professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., spoke to about 519 graduates—and in front of some 7,500 family members and friends—in an evening ceremony at Selland Arena at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center in downtown Fresno. Among the graduates were approximately 227 from the traditional program, 194 from bachelor’s degree completion and 98 master’s candidates, including 23 from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.
Growing up in Kettleman City as the son of migrant workers who became ministers to the people they once worked alongside showed Martínez God’s dream for him. “He invited me into a life of ministry and service. That call, that vision has guided my life,” he said.
Now an ordained pastor in the Mennonite Brethren Church, Martínez is also a member of the FPU Board of Trustees. He has a doctorate from Fuller and a masters of divinity from MB Biblical Seminary, now Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.
Like Martínez, most of the graduates grew up in the Central Valley, and Martínez dared hope that many of them would find God’s dream in their home area. “You folks represent the diversity of this Valley. Can you believe it was God’s will that you be here?” he asked. “That God wants to use you here? That God’s dreams can become reality here? What might God’s dream be for you, in this place, as you envision the tomorrow that God wants you to help build?”
Awards announced during graduation
Awards to students, faculty and community partners were announced during graduation.
The Harold Haak Award went to Alfredo Ramirez, a history/mathematics major from Waterford, Calif. Winners of the award, named for the former president of FPU and California State University, Fresno, are selected by the faculty.
Academic Awards went to Vanessa Andrade-Cantu, a psychology major from Fresno; Ariel Cormack, a psychology major from Sanger, Calif.; Sarah Jalomo, a liberal studies major from Fresno; Derek Kliewer, a biblical studies major from Reedley, Calif.; Mattie Parker, a pre-law major from Visalia, Calif.; and Ashken Chamasanyan, a psychology major from Fresno.
Greg Camp, professor of biblical and religious studies and Greek, was honored with the Nickel Excellence in Teaching Award (NETA).
Lisa Casarez, founder and CEO of Angels of Grace Family Foster Agency, Fresno, was given the Seminary Service Award.
Two members of the Class of 1965, Tim Fast and Paula (Payne) Klassen, were honored as Golden Graduates.
FPU offers undergraduate and graduate programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. Some 3,700 traditional and adult students attend classes on the main campus in southeast Fresno or centers in North Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Merced as well as online. The university also reaches about 10,000 students through professional development studies.
FPU has the highest four-year graduation rate of any Central Valley college or university, is a Hispanic Serving Institution, with a Hispanic student population of 35 percent, and is one of the top 10 HSIs nationally in graduating Hispanic students.
FPU is the Central Valley’s only comprehensive Christian university granting master’s degrees, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is ranked in the top tier among western universities—master’s category by U.S. News & World Report. A description of the unique quality of FPU as an academic community can be found in the Fresno Pacific University Idea at fresno.edu/about/fpu_idea.