April 2021

Final Chapters and New Beginnings

The Syrinx’s 2021 grads reflect on their time at FPU

With every semester, new faces join the FPU community and familiar ones depart; it is the constant bittersweet rhythm of academia. This semester, The Syrinx is saying farewell to five graduating seniors from our staff: Kassandra Klein, Sheyla Castillo, Shyanne Mortimer, Shelbi Hayzlett and Luke Fredette. Below, each of our graduating seniors were invited to reflect on their time at FPU and share their final thoughts as they prepare for graduation. 

Kassandra Klein, Bachelor of Arts in English: Secondary Teaching and Intercultural Studies: TESOL

Like the gangways that connect docks to ships and terminals to airplanes, FPU has been a site of transition for me. Over the past four years, I have grappled with my sense of identity and watched it take shape. I came in as an insecure girl who avoided questions about herself and am leaving as a confident young woman who has a much stronger sense of who she is and what she stands for. I’ve done things that I would have never imagined myself doing four years ago: I danced my heart out in Mock Rock, hiked up and down the Great Wall of China, and presented my research in the Alpha Chi National Convention. And, like a gangway, FPU has been a small step leading me to a much longer, much larger journey. Soon I’ll start applying the theories I learned in class to real life situations and using the research I wrote in papers to inform my critical thinking. After I leave FPU, I can’t say I’ll miss the constant roar of the leaf blower outside my dorm window, or the occasional cockroach scuttling across the bathroom floors or the unhealthy stress of being an overworked honors student. But I will always be fond of the late nights chats in the Forest under the string lights, the smell of dewy grass on quiet walks to a morning class and the lifelong bonds I have formed with faculty and peers. I am on the cusp of graduation—the end of the gangway—and I’m ready for the next leg of my journey. 

Sheyla Castillo, Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with minor in Psychology

As a first generation student coming into FPU I felt as if I was treading unknown waters. Graduating college to me feels like I have made it to the other side of the ocean. Through my journey at FPU I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and have created a bond with mentors and professors who have truly impacted the way I see myself and my future career. I have truly found myself and my passions through my collegiate journey through various experiences in and out of the classroom. Some being a passion for social justice, mental health advocacy, and learning to love my neighbor. I will miss being a part of the Residence Life team and being able to create relationships with people who I would have never expected to be friends with. I will miss entering the caf and wondering who I would sit with on that day. Although my last two years were spent on a screen it has taught me to not take small moments with friends for granted and to be flexible with unexpected changes. I am excited to move on to the next chapter of my life where I will be working at a Non-profit organization on a path to getting accredited through the Department of Justice to be able to provide assistance to immigrant and asylum communities, and working toward my goal of attending law school. 

Shyanne Mortimer, Bachelor of Arts in English

Passing by in the blink of an eye, my time at Fresno Pacific has changed my life. First arriving as a girl with big dreams who was too afraid to speak up, I have now discovered my voice and the power it holds. I will never forget my professors who gave me the courage to be proud of my work or the friends who have been by my side. While I won’t miss the squirrels rushing in front of you or the countless hours spent dedicating to reading for a class, I will always miss attending basketball games and late night walks to the cafe. Although half of my college experience was spent on Zoom, even our online sessions taught me I was capable of handling unexpected life changes. I wish my remaining months had been spent on campus, studying in the forests with friends, I will always feel grateful for the memories I do have. With only two weeks left I am ready to put my years of undergrad behind me and begin the next stage of my life, law school.

Shelbi Hayzlett, Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology – Exercise Science

Growth, achievement, and self-discipline: these are only a fraction of what I have gained from these past four years at Fresno Pacific. From being a student-athlete, an editor, a daughter to a fiancé, I have battled physically and mentally with the multitude of challenges I’ve had to face. Although my years in college have been a complete rollercoaster, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Whether it be earning first place in conference or improving my grades each semester, these will be memories I carry with me onto my next stage. Growing into who I am now from my coaches and professors, I realized my self-worth and what I can do with it in the future. I am excited to move on from this experience and start the next chapter of physical therapy school alongside my loved ones. Although I will miss my teammates, classmates, and people I consider my life-long friends, FPU will always be considered one of my homes.

Luke Fredette, Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy

I am not the same person as I was when I entered FPU; not even close. Beyond even the change in location from Arizona to California, the knowledge I possess has grown, my beliefs have changed and shifted, and I’m quite sure (thanks to numerous philosophical classes) that I no longer even think the same way. While only time will truly tell on that score, all of these, I like to think, have been for the better. There are times when I consider, 3-4 years in, other schools I could have chosen for college. Some may have offered better connections, or provided deeper resources. But those discussions always end with the same realization: in order to become the person who would choose those schools, I needed to attend Fresno Pacific University first. That is this wonderful school’s greatest gift: it transforms you into a person willing to make the best possible choices for yourself, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they may seem.

Our graduating seniors would like to thank all of the staff, faculty, family, and friends who have helped them along their journey at FPU. But now it’s time for us to say, “So long, Syrinx; hello, world!”

Authors: Kassandra Klein;Sheyla Castillo; Shyanne Mortimer; Shelbi Hayzlett; Luke Fredette | Copy Editor; A&E Co-Editors; Production Manager; Chief Copy Editor

FPU’s Return to Campus

Are Students Ready to go Back to Face-to-Face Interactions?

After what seems like an eternity, FPU is finally returning to on-campus learning in the Fall of 2021. For the past year and a half, teachers and staff alike have worked tirelessly to ensure a quality education and environment in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was, and continues to be, a crisis that requires many changes to how we live our everyday lives. While we appreciate the effort and time our beloved school has put into ensuring we don’t miss a beat, an overwhelming majority of FPU students are excited to return to campus.  

There is no doubt that the most effective form of communication is face-to-face. A report done by PsychMinds at the beginning of the online switch compared both face-to-face and online communication by putting the two side-by-side. They found that “face-to-face communication fosters higher quality interactions than online communication.” However, is  “that to say the virtual world has nothing to offer in terms of socializing? Absolutely not. Online communication and social media should be used as supplemental to one’s social life. It should not, however, be integral or the sole source where one socialises and interacts with others” (PsychMinds). 

Although there is no denying that cell phones and the like have brought many closer together, like families split between  different cities or countries, it seems a lot harder to utilize effectively when it comes to school. Socialization becomes a lot more passive and the likes of body language are impossible to read through a screen. Although online class was only a temporary sacrifice, students are ready to go back to a normal school setting. 

Since FPU underwent the switch in March of 2020, students haven’t been able to communicate as before. There are no more hallway conversions, AIMS hall exchanges or even small talk at our beloved coffee shop. Many first year students never even got to experience college life in their first full year here. To them, black screens and muted mics made up much of their communication with classmates. 

This raises the question: are we actually ready to go back to in-person learning and face-to-face communication, or has the online switch changed the way we interact? To better grasp how the students feel about going back to campus, the Syrinx has interviewed some in an effort to gain perspective. 

How has the shift to online learning changed the way you communicate?

Fernanda Espino, First Year, Biology: 

“I noticed that online learning changed my way of communicating by the first or second week, because I am usually an outgoing person ready to ask questions or respond to questions my teachers asked. Breakout rooms certainly did not help and made me even more nervous especially when no one answered when I spoke up, causing huge embarrassment. As the semester continued I somewhat felt it useless to speak up, until I regained my confidence with professors that I felt appreciated my opinion and students that actually cared to hear what I had to say. Now I speak out more but more in classes that I’m more confident in.” 

Roberto Lopez, Third Year, Kinesiology:

“Personally, I don’t think online learning has changed face-to-face communication, but motivated people to seek out community. Since most have been just isolated with little to no help.” 

When FPU goes back to in-person learning, do you think you’re ready to go back to face-to-face communication?

Fernanda Espino, First Year, Biology: 

“Going back to face-to-face learning will definitely be a struggle for me. Since my first year in college was remote and it is the only real college experience I have, it will make it harder for me to jump into campus I believe. It will no longer be screens that I’m going to talk to now but actual people which is great and something I am looking forward to, but I still cannot help feeling nervous, almost as though I lost my social skills. I feel it will take longer for me to adapt but in a few weeks or so I think I will be back to my outgoing self if we go back to face-to-face.”

Roberto Lopez, Third Year, Kinesiology:

“Honestly, I’m praying to go back to face-to-face! I am not having a fun experience with school being online. Just because I am not as motivated and driven to learn in school. Whereas face-to-face I know I will be with other people that I can work with and create community with again.”

We want to thank our awesome teachers and staff for working so hard to give us an education, even if it took a while to get used to. We also want to thank the students who offered their insights on going back to campus. There is no denying that we are all eager to return and try face-to-face learning again. It may take some time to get back to where we were before COVID-19, but we are sure it won’t take very long! 

Author: Julian Alcaraz

California Allows Concerts in April

California Allows Concerts in April As COVID cases decline, public events begin

Over a year later after the pandemic began, many of us are only just now getting vaccinated or signed up to be. As California continues to get vaccines out to people, the state’s Department of Public Health announced earlier this month that, beginning on April 15, indoor concerts, private gatherings and theatres may reopen. After a year of rescheduled concerts and online performances, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for.

While the state is still determining what these new restrictions and guidelines will be, they have made one rule extremely clear already: those in attendance will either need to prove that they’ve been fully vaccinated or get tested. 

These new restrictions will also affect the number of people allowed to attend an event, but this is entirely dependent upon which of the four-colored tiers a specific county is in. As of April 6, 2021, Fresno was in the red tier which allows for outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people. 200 are allowed if everyone is vaccinated, or otherwise has proof of a negative test, within indoor dining capacity limits

The state’s Department of Public Health has also recommended that venues with counties in the red tier continue to physically distance, offer advance ticket purchasing, create designated areas for eating/drinking and limit their events to only those living in the state. They noted that, as counties begin to move out of a lower tier and into a higher tier, restrictions may loosen and capacity will be allowed to increase. With vaccines now being made eligible to California residents of age 16 and up, along with COVID tests beng more easily accessible than they were a year ago, it brings hope that we can soon return to normalcy. 

With the state releasing this guideline of rules that counties must follow in order for venues to safely be used, Ticketmaster has also released a guide for what fans should expect. After the entire country faced setbacks the past year, Ticketmaster strongly encourages fans to invest in ticket insurance, allowing them to obtain their money even if waylaid by illness or cancellation. However, they’ve also calmed fans by noting their urging of venues to create healthy and safe environments, adopt social distancing guidelines and include frequent sanitization. They have now transitioned solely to contactless tickets, reducing the amount of exposure between fans and workers. 

However, one of their biggest changes is the addition of grouped seating. In order to  both prevent exposure and help venues with capacity levels, they’ve created a special seating option for those who will attend in a large group. It allows families and friends to stay together rather than being spread out.  

They have also warned fans that, while each venue is different, they can expect the following rules to be enforced when concerts begin: a mask requirement, clean venue, temperature checks, social distancing, hand sanitizer stations and timed entry. 

As many are looking forward to in-person concerts, Ticketmaster is also promoting drive-in concerts, which takes place from concertgoers’ cars. In areas where capacity is extremely low, a drive-in concert may be a fun alternative!

As April 15 has finally arrived, we can  look forward to June 15, which Governor Newsom has announced to be the day we can expect the state of California to officially reopen. We can only remain optimistic that by June venue capacity will rise, our favorite artists will begin touring and restrictions will loosen as COVID cases decline.

Author: Shyanne Mortimer | A&E Co-Editor

Graduating From the Comfort of Your Home

FPU’S 2nd Virtual Commencement Ceremony

As this semester wraps up, many seniors are looking forward to closing their laptops for the last time in their collegiate journey. But they may need to leave them open a few hours longer if they want to celebrate their graduation. 

Fresno State University and Fresno Unified School District have announced that they are holding in-person graduations for their seniors earlier this month, with modifications to follow in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines. Earlier this semester, Fresno Pacific announced that they would be hosting a virtual ceremony for their seniors, even though other universities have been planning for in-person graduations. FPU’s statement reveals that their decision is based on “state and federal recommendations regarding large gatherings due to COVID-19.”

Since FPU has announced this second virtual commencement, many seniors have expressed their frustrations about not having an in-person graduation while others have become disenchanted about graduating. An FPU student, Samantha Diaz, created a petition challenging FPU’s decision about a virtual ceremony. If you would like to participate and sign up for this petition you can find the link at the end of this article. 

When asked about whether FPU should hold an in-person commencement ceremony, FPU graduating senior Maricarmen Mata-Nunez, a first generation student majoring in Criminal Justice stated, “Definitely!! If they need more time to organize, I’m willing to wait.” 

Governor Newsom has outlined California’s next steps in reopening up the economy, which states that the entire state could potentially reopen on June 15, albeit with safety guidelines in place. Therefore, FPU can potentially hold off on hosting a ceremony later on in the summer in order to provide seniors the ceremony they deserve. 

Samantha Diaz, the creator of the aforementioned petition, has similar hopes: “Since California is planning to FULLY reopen on June 15th, I think it would be well worthwhile to reschedule our graduation ceremony a month later for the opportunity to celebrate in-person alongside our friends and professors.”

DJ Maxwell-Garcia, a first generation Kinesiology major, stated that “I think it is good because it allows family members that would have a more difficult time to be a part of commencement. However, it is bad because it just seems lazy” when asked about the virtual ceremony. 

Holding graduations online simultaneously could be something to think about for future ceremonies, at least after COVID restrictions have been lifted, in order to provide family members from far away places the opportunity to view the proceedings. Holding events online has been easier for those who are far away from us,but it still runs the risk of making it impersonal. We are not able to share hugs and take pictures with family members in our graduation caps and gown.

When asked if their family would be watching the virtual ceremony, which will be hosted on the 8th of May, an anonymous first generation graduating senior stated, “Most likely not, as we see no significance in watching something in which my name is only going to be mentioned for a second.” 

Out of the 11 seniors that were interviewed for this article, five confirmed that their family members would not be watching the virtual ceremony. Unfortunately, watching the ceremony online won’t hold as much importance to some family members than it would have with an in-person celebration. 

Matthew Wilfong, a Contemporary Chirstian Ministries and Business Management Major graduating senior, also commented on FPU’s hosting of a virtual commencement: “I think it is the easy way out, but, honestly, I do not care all that much.” 

Has COVID affected the way students are viewing their success of graduating college? Have college celebrations and support affected the way students and families view their success in graduating college? Regardless of what kind of celebration the university holds, we must continue to celebrate and encourage those who will graduate after four years of hard work and obstacles. 

Students who avoided becoming a statistic, and those who overcame the obstacles that being a first generation brings, ought to remember the wonderful memories of their time here and the relationships that they made. We at the Syrinx offer our congratulations to the class of 2021. 

Student-Created Petition Challenging FPU’s Decision about a virtual commencement ceremony: 


Author: Sheyla Castillo | A&E Co-Editor

Finishing the Semester Strong

How to stay motivated and avoid burnout

Are you tired of staring at a screen all day, of late night studying and of doing both over and over again? With only a short few weeks left in the semester, it is easy to lose motivation and experience burnout. This may be the most important part of the year, but after giving your 100% all year long, your energy may finally be taking the toll. 

The key to making the most out of your study time is schedule breaks. In my experience, I say to myself, “Oh I’ll do this homework on the weekend. I’ll do homework Friday night, all day Saturday, and some on Sunday too.” Does it all get done? …NO! 

The worst part, which helps contribute to burnout, is seeing the list of tasks you were unable to complete when Monday rolls around. Even if I tell myself I’m going to do homework all weekend, realistically, there is just no way I’m going to find the motivation to do it all. Scheduling breaks into your schedule will give you time to rest your brain and won’t leave you feeling guilty for taking a break. Staying both fresh and clear-minded is the key to successful studying.

Maybe you’re thinking “But I don’t have the time to take breaks!” You work all weekend, go to your sport practices and when you aren’t doing that, you’re doing homework or studying. This can lead to some serious burnout and leave you feeling exhausted just as professors decide to have papers, tests and projects all due the SAME week! 

You’re not the only one who feels this way. Even when it seems like taking breaks is not doable, they will actually boost your productivity. If you don’t have a lot of free time, at least take small 10 minute breaks during your study sessions. 

Sleep is another factor that can greatly impact your energy. I understand that it’s hard to get a good amount of sleep when your to-do list keeps growing and growing, but it will make it easier to stay motivated when you’re well-rested. Try going to bed a little earlier than you normally do and get up earlier. With more time in your morning, you can start getting things done earlier. Or try taking a 20 minute power nap. Naps are not for everyone, but they may work for you if you give them a try. 

I know these last few weeks are going to be the most difficult, but remember that we’re all in the same boat. We each have to dig deep and try to finish the semester strong.

Author: Katarina Quintana | Opinions Editor

Captain America’s Wingmen Get the Spotlight

New Disney+ original series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” proves promising thus far

Just when you thought his story was over, Captain America’s back—well, sort of. Disney+’s latest original series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” follows Sam Wilson aka Falcon (portrayed by Anthony Mackie) and James “Bucky” Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (portrayed by Sebastian Stan) in a “post-Blip” world, a term used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to describe life after Thanos’ infamous snap in “Avengers: Infinity War.” Like “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” Disney+ is releasing one new episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” every Friday. This action-packed buddy series has proven to be promising thus far. Warning: spoilers ahead.

In “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” Sam and Bucky team up to fight the Flag Smashers, an antipatriot terrorist organization with the goal of tearing down national borders and creating a one-world civilization. Perhaps most worrisome is that the members of the Flag Smashers seem to have super soldier powers not unlike those granted to Steve Rogers aka Captain America in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” powers that were thought to have been his alone. 

    In addition to their battle with the Flag Smashers, Sam and Bucky also struggle to not only live up to, but also live out, Captain America’s legacy. Following Steve Rogers relinquishing his shield to Sam in “Avengers: Endgame,” Sam decides to give it up, much to Bucky’s dismay. However, the American government thinks differently, and decides to recast Captain America. The new Captain America is a soldier named John Walker (portrayed by Wyatt Russell) who humbly takes up the mantle of Captain America. Walker, joined by his partner Lemar Hoskins aka Battlestar (portrayed by Clé Bennett), attempts to befriend Sam and Bucky multiple times, despite the latter two’s constant rejections. Whether Sam and Bucky will befriend the new Captain America remains a mystery. 

    The series also spends time expanding the inner lives of Sam and Bucky. Sam struggles to support his family’s shrimping boat and experiences blatant racism at the hands of the bank and police officers. Meanwhile, Bucky wrestles with his PTSD and newly found freedom after being released from being a brainwashed HYDRA assassin for decades. Sam and Bucky, both of whom were blipped, struggle to reconnect with family and/or friends after having been gone for five years.  

    “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” currently ranks high with both the public and critics. As of March 30, the show holds a rating of 8.1/10 on IMDb and a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.The writers at Den of Geek gave episodes one and two a rating of 3 and 4.5 out of 5, respectively, reflecting the generally positive attitude towards the series thus far with some reservations. Memes denouncing the new Captain America, often coupled with the hashtag #NotMyCap, have spread through the Internet like a wildfire, with varying degrees of seriousness and irony. 

Given such generally positive feedback, fans eager for Marvel’s signature high-speed chases and high-tech battles are likely to be thoroughly entertained by “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” 

Author: Kassandra Klein | Copy Editor

Embarrassing Zoom Moments

FPU students discuss their most humiliating Zoom stories

We all know that online learning hasn’t been the easiest, and we’ve had to overcome many challenges, including those that come with classes being on Zoom. This new world has opened up many new opportunities for students to embarrass themselves. A few FPU students were graciously willing to share their interesting Zoom experiences with us.

We haven’t had to actually get ourselves ready in the mornings, if we don’t feel like it. We can roll out of bed five minutes before class starts and be just fine… probably.

“8:00 am classes over Zoom can be pretty brutal sometimes, and there was one morning in particular when I was especially tired,” stated junior Roman Endicott. “I decided it was a good idea to turn my camera off and ‘rest my eyes’ for a bit. The next thing I knew I woke up and class had been over for a few minutes already, so I was the only student left in the meeting. And not only that, but this professor always stays for questions after class, so he was still there waiting for me to ask a question! I was so embarrassed that I just left without saying anything. I couldn’t bring myself to explain that I had slept through the entirety of the lecture and had only just woken up.”

Another student had a similar experience sleeping during class.

“Once in Bio class I was falling asleep because I was completely exhausted, and this was an 8 am class,” said sophomore Samuel Arballo. “My eyes opened and closed, and I was like almost falling out of my chair, that’s how tired I was.” Arballo confirmed that he was so tired he doesn’t even remember if his camera was on or not. 

Yet another student “rested their eyes” a bit too long. 

“One day I was extremely tired, so I fell asleep in the second half of my psychology class,” explained freshman Gisselle Perez. “I woke up to my teacher asking me if I was ok because class had already ended, and I still hadn’t left the meeting. I just said, ‘Yes, sorry, connection issues.’”

Maybe nothing that embarrassing has happened to you, but maybe you have felt awkward taking a sip of your coffee or eating a snack on camera. 

“I like to eat during class: snacks, sometimes lunch,” stated freshman Brandi Aguilera. “So I guess my Zoom classmates, in classes where we have to have our camera on, have probably seen me pig out on my food.”

Instead of falling asleep in class, some students have instead left their microphones on by accident and shared some things they would rather have not with the rest of the class.

“At the beginning of my history class, my mic would always be on,” explained freshman Cinthia Lara. “When I was logging in, my cousins decided it was a good time to play fight (screaming and running) around the living room where I was in class. Everyone heard them fighting and singing for a good couple of minutes. It was scary because I never had my mic on.”

We all know what it’s like to get excited after receiving a good grade on a test, but this next student might have celebrated a tad too early.

“I had just gotten done with my final speech for my oral communications class,” said freshman Nathaniel Medina. “After my professor and classmates gave me their final thoughts on it, I checked my grade for the speech and saw that I got an A on it. With that being my first A on the speech, I jumped out of my chair and started running around my house singing ‘I’m So Excited’ by the Pointer Sisters, but I forgot that I had my mic on and everyone could hear me singing and running.”

Have you had an embarrassing Zoom moment this year? If you have, you are not alone—don’t be hard on yourself. I encourage you to learn to laugh at your mistakes. Zoom has given us many challenges this year, but also many funny stories and laughs.

Author: Katarina Quintana | Opinions Editor

Reopening the Happiest Place on Earth

What to expect at Disneyland

Calling all fellow Disney fans! After a long year without it, our happy place is set to open this April 30. Unfortunately, the return won’t be quite the same as before. There are several things to keep in mind, but not to worry; let this article be your guide. 

Expect tickets to sell out fast for the first few months. If you’re wanting to get one, you’ll have to purchase it online in advance. Tickets are currently not being sold. Disney will announce a day that tickets will go on sale, so keep checking their website for updates. Prices will also most likely be higher than usual. On the most in-demand days before the pandemic, a Disneyland ticket reached $154 each. April 30 is set to be the most in-demand ticket day in the park’s history.

It was definitely a disappointment when Annual Passports were retired, but there is some good news. Previous passholders will become part of a new Legacy Passholder program. If you qualify, you should have received an email or a notification by letter. Legacy Passholders receive special discounts, and Disney is  working to expand this program.

Disneyland will only be open to California residents, and it will have a 15% attendance cap at its initial reopening. Orange County could move to the orange tier next week though. If so, it’s likely the cap will increase to 25% soon enough. Disneyland’s hotels are also set to open, but at a limited capacity. The Grand Californian Hotel will reopen on April 29, while the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier will remain closed. They will open soon enough, but no date has been set.

All visitors age two and up will be required to wear approved face masks. The masks must fully cover the nose and mouth and be secured under the chin. They must fit snugly against the sides of the face and be secured with ties or ear loops, allowing guests to remain hands-free. Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind will not be allowed.

Even with masks, families are required to remain six feet apart from others. Masks may be removed when eating or drinking, but must be kept on at all other times, including while on rides.

Disney has also increased its cleanliness procedures, continually sanitizing high touch areas like seats and ride bars. Guests can expect to be temperature screened upon entry. If their temperature is at or above 100.4 F, they and their party will not be allowed to enter.

Experiences that draw larger groups like parades and firework shows will be temporarily halted. It is not yet known when they are expected to return. You won’t be able to have a meet and greet with your favorite Disney character, but they will still be roaming the park. Fortunately, you will at least get to see them, and who knows? Maybe they’ll perform some funny antics.

While this reopening isn’t everything we hoped for, it’s at least a start. Hopefully, as time goes on, Disneyland will be able to relax its requirements. Until then, be safe, be mindful, and remember, as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother says: “Even miracles take a little time.”

Author: Emily Bogdanov | Staff Writer

How Was the Shift to an Online World for FPU?

An Overview of How Our Teachers and Staff Felt About a New Reality

As FPU enters its third semester online, it has begun to seem as if in-person learning is a distant memory. When the change was made over a year ago, the FPU community, along with much of the rest of the world, didn’t think much of it. For students it was an excuse to stay home, while also being a much more convenient way to attend school. For the teachers and staff which make the classrooms run, however, it was a hard change to their everyday lives. 

Over the course of lockdown, the Syrinx has published many stories presenting the views and thoughts of FPU students during this period of online, distanced learning. This time around, we have decided to instead showcase the thoughts of some of our FPU staff and teachers on the change and how it affected them.

The Syrinx interviewed two offices as well as a couple of teachers for their insight. We want to personally thank those who responded for sharing their voice to us all, as it will help us better understand how this online switch has changed the way they work. 

How difficult was the transition away from the classroom or office setting when FPU first made its transition to online?

Kerry Brown, Director of Student Support Services, Student Success (ASC):

“The difficulty at first was more emotional than in the functionality of our services. That week in March was full of changing news and growing concern of COVID-19. On Thursday of that week, a colleague mentioned that we as a campus would be shutting down for a couple of weeks. Sure enough, that Friday we were told to move our service online, pack what we needed to work from home for awhile (we all thought we’d be back by the end of March at that time), and take care of ourselves. It was difficult to not be scared, but our ASC team was so motivated to do what we needed to do to help the faculty and students, we didn’t stay scared for long.

Our team stayed in almost constant contact during our work days for the next month or so. We met online with one another, our fabulous colleagues in COL and IT, and our student workers. Our question to one another and others in the FPU community was, ‘How ARE you?’ and giving space to name fear, boredom, frustration, loneliness, as well as share in joys and celebrations.

So, how difficult was the transition? It wasn’t too difficult because we all love what we do and love to serve the FPU community. I know the Lord strengthened us to persevere and persist! I look back on what we were able to accomplish last year and am so grateful for the hard work of so many across the campus and within our department. I am grateful for the leadership and empowerment of Greg Camp, who oversees us; for Robert Lippert for including the ASC in the CARES grant; for the COL staff—Henrietta, Patty, Jason, and Todd—who helped us make sure our services were transitioned onto Moodle; for Amina in the library and her collegiality; for John and Chad (both of whom no longer work at FPU) in IT and their work with the laptops and hotspots for our student workers; for the ASC staff and student workers for truly making the best of a pretty crummy situation.

In many ways, this year brought out the best in a lot of people.”

Registrar Office:

“The Registrar’s Department is blessed to be comprised of capable, independent staff and a strong, compassionate leadership team who work together quite well. Because of this, the transition to remote work and learning went much smoother than it could have. Under the leadership of the University Registrar, Danielle Jeffress, the Registrar’s Department was able to plan, prepare, and transition to working from home while continuing to provide the best support and service we could to students, staff, and faculty. There was certainly a learning curve as we navigated Zoom meetings, developed new communication methods, and adjusted to the changes in the world around us. However, the Registrar’s Department once again proved that the ‘Reg team’ has created a caring community as everyone extended support, prayers, and encouragements to one another before, during, and after the transition.”

Dr. Daniel Larson:

“The transition was hard for a lot of reasons. When we went to distance learning in Spring last year, there was a lot of fear and a lot of uncertainty, a lot of new responsibilities at home for many folks. On-line settings work really well for some people, and others have a really hard time.

Teaching on-line requires its own specific techniques and strategies—it really is a completely different thing than a face-to-face classroom. Creating a strong on-line course typically takes months of preparation (writing and recording lectures, creating lessons, updating and recreating worksheets or handouts, writing exams and quizzes—not mention keeping up with research and integrating new and fresh perspectives into the course); a lot of that happens when designing any course, but it has to take specificities shape for on-line learning. Because of that, an on-line course can have more unification and more clarity sometimes, but it also can lose some of the spontaneity of traditional face-to-face classes. There are some drawbacks to that, but it also opens some really interesting new possibilities as well. There are some real exciting new things you get to try out in this setting that wouldn’t be possible in a face to face class.

I think this is a really interesting question, because when we talk about FPU’s shift to distance learning, we’re really talking about 3 different things: 1) crisis management, 2) synchronous distance learning, and 3) on-line learning. I feel like it’s important to acknowledge that the three (or 2 1/2) semesters we’ve been in ‘distance learning’ we’ve had some very different expectations. In Spring, we were responding to crisis—we had to move fast and take stock of a lot of new things in all our lives; in Fall, we had planned for an in-person face-to-face return, but received news just before the semester started that all classes would be ‘synchronous on-line;’ and Spring is really the first time we knew beforehand what we could expect for the semester.”

Dr. Julia Reimer: 

“I remember the week as being pretty intense, when we found out we wouldn’t be going back in-person after Spring Break. We were in the middle of oral presentations in my World Theater class and the final project for Visual Rhetoric was a ‘Where We Live’ project where students were supposed to run around and do a written or video rhetorical analysis of a place. With the ‘stay at home’ mandate, that was going to be more challenging. And Zoom was so new to most of us, that it was hard to know how much to keep the same in a course, and how much to radically redesign. And of course, it was such a disappointment for graduating seniors, and also for students in the Visual/Performing Arts, because their senior recitals and art shows were cancelled, the spring musical was cancelled. And that’s true now too for most of the Arts. I know some things got acknowledged in the wonderful prayer moments on behalf of various parts of our FPU community, but others maybe did not. Rituals of mourning are so important when we go through difficult things. So I was just trying to do my best to be present to students, both individually and in classes, and do what I could to help us all navigate the season. I was so grateful to students during that time, for their graciousness, how they were there for each other—being creative in figuring out how to manage teamwork, presentations, and figuring out unfamiliar technologies. It was such a collaborative effort across the whole university, with lots of unknowns. I’m grateful.”

Dr. Brian Schultz

“The transition, which happened in March of last academic year, was not too traumatic for me for two reasons: first, because one could build on half a semester of in-person instruction during which a certain amount of relationship building with students had already taken place. This is not to say that I had a personal connection with all the students, but that my experience of them and their experience of me had happened live in-person for a couple months already. One can interact with individuals where there is already some kind of shared in-person experience in ways one can’t without it. Second, I chose to keep the same schedule as when teaching in-person, which required less reworking of the course content and/or its delivery than if I had transitioned to make most of the course a-synchronous. One anecdotal report suggests this continuity between in-person instruction and remote learning was appreciated by, if not comforting to, students.

I found the past two semesters to be more challenging. There are some students’ faces I have never seen and, other than their verbal affirmation that they are actually behind the black tile that bears their name on my Zoom screen, whose voice I have never heard. Even so, we are so very blessed to have a tool like Zoom, and it may be that while I feel disconnected from such students, for all I know some of them may prefer it and do better with it than if they were in an in-person classroom.”

In what ways have you handled online? How have you changed your approach to teaching or work? What are you doing to keep a positive mindset and what have you learned over these times?

Kerry Brown (ASC): 

“As a department, going online helped expedite some changes we were hoping to make in the next few years. It’s a lot easier for students to make an appointment for an ASC service, including Degree Completion students. In fact, more DC students have been served in the past year than in the previous years combined! However, use by the traditional student population is dismal compared to what it usually is.

My approach to work has changed to being more proactive in reaching out to students who may need someone to talk to, an academic coach, or mentor. They aren’t able to stop by the ASC and I won’t run into them around campus. I know there are a lot of frustrated students out there who need help getting back on track with their academics. We are still available to serve them!

To keep a positive mindset, I meet regularly (some in person, some virtually) with my team—Francisco, Javier, Alfredo, Leann, and Sarah. They are such a joy and we really enjoy working with each other. Plus, they are fabulous colleagues who work hard to serve FPU students and to make the ASC as helpful as possible.

On a personal level, this past year has been a good year for my family to simplify our lives. It is usually full of sports, music, outings, and busyness. It’s been a year when we’ve spent a lot more time together, which has been great!

As I mentioned above, I think this time has brought out the best in a lot of people. We have a ways to go, but I am hopeful that we—individuals and a collective community—can be a part of God working all things together for good and for His glory.”


“Many of the processes within the Registrar’s Department were already online or transitioning to online/electronic platforms prior to the pandemic. However, many things, such as meetings and services provided at the front desk, took place in person. Luckily, there were already structures in place to support a transition to online work. Meetings were able to take place via conference call, Skype, or various other platforms and student services were provided via phone and email. 

The transition to remote work has proven how adaptable the Registrar’s team is. The entire team adopted an open and patient mindset, seeking to do whatever it took to ensure we did not waver in the quality of service provided to students, staff, and faculty. This included creating new processes, forms, and policies as well as updating or reworking existing processes and policies.  

Maintaining high morale and a positive working environment was very important to everyone on the Registrar team. Department meetings became a space to share encouragements, prayer requests, and connect with one another in addition to work. Many members of the team went above and beyond to show support to one another. It has proven to be a way for our team to grow and get to know one another better. We have learned how to better support each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to function successfully as a team in the face of adversity.”

Dr. Larson:

“Well, I think it helps to think about every situation as coming with its own specific opportunities, not just its limitations. The university classroom (on-line or otherwise) is a place where knowledge get’s created—you’re not just there to passively receive data like Neo in the Matrix or something. Students are part of the production of knowledge—you yourself are making the knowledge happen. In a discussion based-class, this is really evident; but it can be hard to replicate that kind of open discussion over something like Zoom. 

One of the things I’m doing more of is leaving the class meeting as a time for students to explore and create in groups. I’ll put up a lecture video or lesson to view before coming to the class meeting, and then leaving the class more open-ended for long-term group projects. For example, my Literature classes are making podcast episodes: they discuss the text as a group, then one person edits and posts the conversation for the rest of the class to listen to at another point during the week. That’s not really something we could do without Zoom break-out rooms. It’s one of the opportunities the on-line modality opens up for us.

As far as ‘keeping positive,’ in all honesty, it’s a struggle sometimes. Sometimes, though, you do get down, you know, you get isolated and the repetition of it all gets a bit overwhelming. When that happens, it helps to reach out to people around you and try to get grounded again. I know for me it helps to read a short poem or do some contemplative or centering prayer or even just going for a walk—things that help me recenter and refocus on the moment.”

Dr. Reimer:

“I never quite understood the ‘flipped classroom’ before pandemic teaching, since in Theater, we are always interactive, hands-on, applied in our approaches. But I’ve been learning even more about what’s good use of class sessions, and what’s better done asynchronously…at least in my little corner of the Humanities/Social Sciences. For example, I’m pretty white Euro-Mennonite—that whole northern European to Russia to USA immigrant story—so it would be pretty tragic if students in an Intercultural Communication course got me as the main voice narrating all the theory, even if I’ve had a variety of international and cross-cultural experiences. But if we can hear Kimberlé Crensh​aw lecture on Intersectionality via a TEDTalk and Jeanne Tsai talk about emotion and cultural display across cultures in a video lecture, why wouldn’t we want that? Then, in our Tuesday sessions, we can hear from each other, listening and learning as we work to develop our intercultural competencies as diverse cultural selves in the classroom space. It has been really interesting to have the space/freedom to reframe certain pedagogical structures, which are perhaps part of a system we’ve been previously handed, but which could be creatively reimagined. It hasn’t felt like a ‘one size fits all,’ ‘this course must be put online’ mandate, which is sometimes how these things feel in pre-pandemic times. I’ve really appreciated that from the administration. It has felt generative to be able to play a bit with the ‘how’ of our structures so the medium really can fit the message. This has also been a time for me to step back a bit and think more about my vocational strengths as a teacher, as well as my liabilities. Maybe a little too much ‘alone’ time to reflect on the latter!”

Dr. Schultz:

“There are two main ways I have adapted to remote learning. The first is that I have tried to include more activities that are a-synchronous for students to do in preparation for the live Zoom sessions.  The second is learning to replace the plethora of face to face interaction that happens with in-person instruction during, before, and after class, at Charlotte’s, in the Forest, etc. with a constant flurry of emails and updates to the Moodle content.

The most challenging has been my Hebrew classes, which when held in person include lots of moving around the classroom, interacting with props, utilizing posters and whiteboard drawings, etc. More recently I have modified my desk to make it a larger surface on which I can play out scenarios with props, began using a second camera, and incorporated additional hardware that works with Zoom so as to allow me to write and draw like on a white board.”

What are you most excited for if and when FPU makes it’s transition back to in-person?

Kerry Brown (ASC):

“People!!! I miss the people…the students especially, but also the campus conversations with colleagues and the impromptu office visits to faculty.”


“Donuts on Fridays! Or, in other words, getting to be together in a place where we can actually see and talk to one another without worrying about slow Wi-Fi or any of the various technological issues encountered regularly. It has been so long since we have been able to come together as a community, gather around a box of donuts, and share with one another. More importantly, we are excited to be able to provide the level of service that can only be reached when assisting people in-person. We are thrilled to be able to take everything we have learned while working remote and continue applying it as we transition back to in-person work, providing the best service possible.”

Dr. Larson:

“Honestly, I can’t wait to just bump into people again. Those small moments of seeing someone on the way to class or sitting in the coffee shop are really important elements of life in a community.”

Dr. Reimer:

“I do miss being with other people as three-dimensional beings.  There’s so much that happens in the margins of a class session; the conversations before and after class, the energy from being physically together, running into students in hallways or saying ‘Hi’ at Charlotte’s or the Library, live performance in Theater classes, as well as all the little ethnographic things I like to send students out to do in various courses. I miss meeting up with colleagues and friends to bounce my self-, teaching-, and world-reflections off of.  I’m pretty tired of the Zoom. It has served us well through a difficult time; I’m grateful. But I’m looking forward to moving into a less-mediated existence. A bit more proximity, social joy and transcendence would be nice!”

Dr Schultz:

“I am most excited about having fewer (hopefully no) silent black tiles with students’ names in white font on my Zoom screen; even if these are replaced by equally silent bodies in the classroom, they will be very much alive and I will be able to recognize them—and hopefully interact with them—in other contexts.”

Whether fromit be told by a student or staff member, the answer is always the same. It is easy to see that the whole FPU community is eager to get back to an in-person setting.  We all miss the feeling of being at our beloved FPU campus and the vibe it brings. The Syrinx would like to once again thank those who shared their thoughts on how the online world has reshaped their lives. We are all excited and ready to return to our beloved campus! 

Author: Julian Alcaraz | Features Editor

Have we forgotten the true meaning of Easter?

The easter bunny and candy have taken over this Biblical holiday.

Do you celebrate Easter? If you do, do you celebrate with bucket loads of chocolate bunnies and other sweet treats, or do you attend a church service with your family? Perhaps you are like me when I was younger, and celebrate by going to church in the morning and then having an Easter egg hunt afterwards? No matter how you celebrate, Easter Sunday is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Western world. 

Growing up, my family always held Easter egg hunts for the kids. I remember running as fast as my little legs could carry me to gather as many as I could. My goal wasn’t just to find regular candy eggs, but to find the golden ones that had money in them. I also couldn’t wait to open the Easter baskets my grandma would always make for me. 

However, I also remember my parents sitting my sister and I down to tell us the real meaning behind Easter and our celebration of Resurrection Sunday. We were taught that this day was a celebration and reflection of God’s greatest gift to humanity—Jesus Christ’s resurrection after his crucifixion three days prior. This day shaped the very basis of the Christian religion. Jesus’ resurrection is what gives life meaning; it gives us hope that one day we can enter heaven’s gates and live with God for all eternity, if we choose to surrender our lives to him. 

Whether or not you believe this is true, it is the real meaning behind Easter. Like Christmas, Easter has become a secular holiday and is now celebrated by believers and non-believers around the globe. The Easter bunny has become the mascot for this holiday, bringing baskets of candy and toys to children. 

Is it wrong to celebrate the Easter bunny coming to town with candy and Easter egg hunts? Not at all, but we must also remember this holiday’s Biblical significance. All too often we get caught up in the things of this world and lose sight of truth. That truth, during Easter, is Jesus’ resurrection. As we enter the Easter season, even if you choose to do an egg hunt or dye hard-boiled eggs, please don’t forget to place Jesus at the heart of your celebrations. While the Easter bunny may come bearing chocolate bunnies, 2,000 years ago Jesus died bearing our sins to offer us eternal life.

Author: Katarina Quintana | Opinions Editor