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CBU celebrates 2024 graduates in commencement ceremonies

California Baptist University held its commencement ceremonies from April 22-24, celebrating the graduation of 1,819 students. Held at the Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Events Center, the ceremonies included doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate degree recipients.

The gowns were ironed; the caps were decorated; the flowers were purchased.

With anticipation in the air, graduates of California Baptist University gathered to celebrate before embarking on a new chapter in their lives. Meanwhile, family and friends filled the Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Events Center to commemorate the CBU graduating class of 2024.

 CBU celebrated the completion of degrees for 1,819 applicants over five ceremonies held April 22-24. The combined applications for graduation consisted of 24 candidates for doctoral degrees, 619 for master’s degrees and 1,176 candidates for undergraduate degrees.

 Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU president, honored the students’ efforts to earn their degrees, recognizing their hard work.

 “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. “The faculty and the entire university family join me in saying we are proud of you.”

 In the commencement address, Dr. John Montgomery, associate vice president for student services, said all the hard work poured into the college years pays off at commencement.

 “The goal you have been pursuing at last is at hand. You have successfully navigated the various requirements, deadlines and assessments necessary to receive your diploma.”

 Montgomery encouraged the students to embrace their new beginning.

 “Take with you a continuing passion for learning, the friendships made and the life lessons gained during your college years,” Montgomery said. “You are ready to move on to what lies ahead in life, no doubt better prepared than you might imagine for whatever that may be.”         

 During the ceremonies, CBU also recognized two students who achieved excellence in their academic accomplishments.

 Yasna Petrova, an international student-athlete from Bulgaria, received the Min Sung Kim International Student Award that is presented to an international student who has made outstanding contributions to the CBU community. An international studies major, Petrova competes on CBU’s cross country and track team, holding multiple records for her performance.

The 2023 Outstanding Senior Award went to Trinity Nguyen. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in business administration in three years with a 4.0 GPA. She was inducted into the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and served as president of the CBU student club Health Nex.

For Joelle Pasalo, who earned a Master of Science in Athletic Training, the intense program prepared her for her career, she said. Her clinical rotations included Division I and Division 3 colleges, a high school and The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.

“The special part about attending CBU would be the family relationship that we built. With my cohort, we're with each other day in, day out. We're grinding; we're studying; we're with each other for the highs and lows,” Pasalo said. “Being there for one another inside the classroom and outside the classroom has been amazing and comforting.”

 When Faith Ozenbaugh first stepped on campus, she could feel a difference in the student body and the environment. She is leaving with two degrees – a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Behavioral Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations.

“I knew as a student here, I would be cared for academically, spiritually and socially. My past four years here have really proven that to be true,” Ozenbaugh said. “There is something different about the community at CBU and the environment that we get to live in every single day through our classes, friendships and involvement on campus. I knew it would just be a place that I would thrive as a student.”

 Kaili Osselaer received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was the vice president of the Society of Women Engineers, served as an intern with Spiritual Life, played intramurals and went on international service projects. Her advice to incoming students? Get involved.

“CBU has so many things for you to do here, but your experience is what you make it,” Osselaer said. “Get to know your peers outside of the classroom. It is an amazing campus with amazing people, so find ways to get plugged in, and I know you're going to love it.”

Nico Carrillo received a Bachelor of Arts in Photography. He chose to attend CBU for the tighter-knit community so that he could engage in meaningful conversation with professors and peers. 

“CBU prepared me for my future by giving me the tools and resources needed to not only succeed in the classroom but also have a running start upon graduation,” Carrillo said. “I've been given a lot of good advice on what it means to truly be a Christian in the creative industry and how to navigate that.”