Graduation is a time of both celebration and accomplishment. We have worked towards a goal in education that will allow us to pursue a further one in life. All of us have a different path leading us away from Fresno Pacific. In looking forward, we are reminded of what brought us all here in the first place. All seniors from The Syrinx graduating this week are transfer students with very different stories. Reflecting on our reasons for becoming Fresno Pacific University students helps to cement our decisions and thankfulness for the unique opportunities, only offered here, that have shaped us into who we want to be as we leave.
COVID-19 may have changed the way we receive our education this year, but it doesn’t change who we are. Our seniors want to share what this quiet ending means to them, as they get ready to graduate at the end of this week.
Janelle Fontaine, Bachelor’s Degree in Communication:
I began my time at Fresno Pacific with a dream. After twenty years, I finally have the opportunity to complete my Bachelor’s degree. I have two daughters looking to me as a role model of perseverance. My mom also dreamed of receiving her degree and regretted the fact that she hadn’t tried returning to school herself. She passed away in 2015, leaving me to be the first person in my family to make my dreams into reality. These reasons are the foundation for what became my driving motivation. Attending Fresno Pacific has been an amazing journey. The professors have been supportive to me, even during what could have been a catastrophic situation, and have never given up even when I thought I might lose faith in myself; for that, I will be eternally grateful. With their help, I have arrived at the end of this part of my journey. 2020 has introduced unprecedented challenges across the world, and forced changes in all aspects of our lives. The threat of COVID-19 has not only made us realize just how precious life is, but has reminded us to take nothing for granted. God has provided us an opportunity to relate with one another, as Dr. Wiebe would say, “through a different lens.”
Becoming part of the Syrinx staff has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time here at Fresno Pacific. Developing into a more confident writer while working with a truly-awesome group of young adults is something special and has undoubtedly been a blessing. I hope only the best for everyone.
My last few words are about commencement, and how different it looks during this crisis. I could be upset that it isn’t as full of pomp as a graduate will naturally expect, but it doesn’t take away the fact I am graduating. Whether I walk across a stage or drive through the campus with my family, in a car covered in orange and blue paint, or lastly, with a quiet bang in my home, the shelter-in-place cancelling all graduation plans entirely; I can show my daughters that one should never give up and that through hard work and perseverance, dreams can become reality.
Dani Mercado, Bachelor’s Degree in English
I began my time at FPU as a transfer student in the spring of 2019. I had just graduated with my Associates Degree and had made it a point to graduate in about a year’s time. I wanted to achieve this goal in a small amount of time, and then either start graduate school or enter the workforce. I arrived at FPU majoring in Biology with a human health emphasis, but am leaving with a Bachelor’s in English.
When I arrived, I was set on entering the medical field. But as I progressed through my first semester, I realized that this area of study just wasn’t meant for me. My personal life took away from my academic studies and I finally decided to talk with my parents about my true passion for literature and writing. While I was worried they wouldn’t accept my desire for writing, I was sorely mistaken. My parents were elated and encouraged me to follow my true desires.
I began my English major route in the Fall semester of 2019 and finally entered that wonderful department. I adore our English and Communications department. We all are invested in one another’s journeys and cheer each other on. I decided to invest in being a part of the community and applied to be an RA and join the Syrinx. I was hired for both positions and was elated. These experiences brought so much joy, lessons and friendships. As with many others, my final semester looks nothing like it was meant to. Fortunately, my time coming to a close has proven to be not as saddening as I originally feared.
While at home, I was able to accommodate my surroundings. Also, I am throwing my name into dozens of programs, applying to countless internships, and simply taking chances. I am eager to see what life has in store for me next. I will miss the people, as I have missed them during this semester. I miss Syrinx meetings in the basement, staying in the Student Life office for hours, studying with friends in the Forest, late night walks around campus and running into friends in the coffee shop. I will be taking my graduation walk down the Las Vegas strip with a mask on, but you’ll still be able to tell that I’m smiling. I hope to leave not only some kindness behind, but powerful words as well.
Timothy Myracle, Bachelor’s degree in Psychology
Looking back and reflecting on the past isn’t really my favorite thing to do, but I do see why it is exceptionally valuable.
As a transfer student, my time at FPU was both busy and brief. Even now, as I think back on my three semesters here, I am inundated with memories, emotions and thoughts. It is also saddening to realize that for half of my time at Fresno Pacific, I wasn’t even physically there, due to California’s well-meaning but often over-reaching COVID-19 regulations. If I have learned anything from my time spent in COVID distancing, it is that I have greatly underestimated the importance of personal interaction with others, especially for someone who is fueled by those kinds of meaningful interactions. I have never felt more detached from my friends and society than I have in these past months. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I cannot allow this Christmas season to slip by without connecting with as many people as possible.
I consider myself very blessed to have attended FPU, and am thankful for my parents who paid my way through. I am grateful for my time here and for our university’s commitment to Christlike encouragement. Not only will I graduate with my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, but I got to meet a huge host of great people along the way. My favorite moments at FPU were those spent meeting and getting to know people, hanging out with friends in places such as Hiebert Library and the Commuter House, working and laughing with the Syrinx team, working as a writing tutor with the ASC team, thinking and praying in Warkentine Chapel and talking with my professors about whatever topic was either on the board during class or on my mind afterwards. A big thank you to all of the teachers, faculty, donors and employees, and thank you especially to my psychology professors who helped to put me on a path for graduate school and my future career. Soli Deo Gloria
Shawn McCurry, Bachelor’s Degree in English:
Right after a four-year stint at community college, I took about a year hiatus from education.I was frustrated with how things were handled by my college advisors, who had mistakenly assigned classes that would not benefit me during my time there. Thankfully, I was supported by my loving parents at the time.
When I finally decided enough was enough and that I needed to get back on the horse, I considered Fresno Pacific because it was known for its speed. The thing I really learned about FPU was that it was about quality over quantity and I have enjoyed my time here because of this priority. The quality of friendships made, of the professors and of the care put into each and every aspect of a student’s education.
My advisor was always willing to work around my many convoluted scheduling conflicts (thank you, Eleanor!) and when I thought I knew what it was I wanted to do, I was offered the opportunity to create a specialized major program based around classes focusing on the skills needed for the job. Only one of my major memories is walking into class on week one of my first semester and hearing a professor drop the F-bomb in class. This really highlights that it’s not like other campuses: the learning, the environment is real, the values are real and the heartfelt moments shared between professor and student post-class are real.
This year, as we sit locked behind our virtual presence, I don’t mind that we won’t have a graduation ceremony, because it gives me more time to cherish the moments I’ve spent learning from all my wonderful professors (you know who you are).
We want to thank all professors who have made our education possible, even during the challenges we have faced this year. Fresno Pacific University has been more than just a beacon of education: it has been hope, family, friendship, possibility and joy. Truly, it is where “possibility happens”.
Let the commencement begin.
Author: Dani Mercado|A&E Editor
Author: Tim Myracle|Features Editor
Author: Janelle Fontaine|Opinions Editor
Author: Shawn McCurry|Staff Writer