The grove at Pacific Union College holds graduation memories of me. Our daughter Amanda in 2006 and son Tyler and his wife, Kristin in 2008. As I donned my regalia again on Sunday and had Jennifer drop me off at the airport parking area it was a happy stroll to the marching area.
Some things have changed since 2008 when I last marched as a Board of Trustee member. Dr. Heather Knight is now the President of the college and is just shy of completing her first year. Her enthusiasm for Adventist higher education is contagious and her mantra of "Good to Great" forms the context of everything she does with students, faculty, board, and community. Her husband, Dr. Norman Knight, is a gifted speaker and teacher. (We'll be utilizing his skills at WestPoint in December!) A great team for Pacific Union College.
Other things are quite the same. Familiar faculty and staff faces mill around prior to graduation. Another bit of sameness is the excitement of graduates and their families. I only know a couple of the names personally that are read by Dr. Nancy LeCourt (VP for Academic Affairs) as the diplomas are distributed but the singular scenes of accomplishment are readily recognizable to any parent who has been there with one of their own.
I was happy to see the theology majors that I had interviewed in February. One in particular, Brad Gienger, was a young church member in Simi Valley when we pastored there in the 90's. When I saw him following graduation he told me that 15 minutes before the ceremony had commenced his cell phone rang with the news that the Dakota Conference was offering him a job--either a small district of churches or sponsorship to Andrews University Theological Seminary. I rejoiced with him.
College is a lifetime ago for me now--literally 30 years this June when I finished my B.A. in Theology at Andrews. Now I watch hundreds of newly minted graduates--clutching their green PUC diploma covers--disperse from the grounds on this late Sunday morning in June. They are covered with the glow of promise and possibility. And with them I see grandparents, cousins, uncles, and siblings who could be thinking, It's never too late to embrace the joy of a limitless tomorrow.