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Over 200 Columbia International University students crossed the stage of Shortess Chapel to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees during commencement ceremonies May 17. After exiting the chapel doors to sunshine and blue skies of a mild spring day, one of the first things many of them did was thank a professor, often with a hug or a handshake.
Jacob Tedder, who will be a youth pastor in Rock Hill, S.C., says he needed guidance to see his way through to his academic and spiritual goals, so during his sophomore year, he sought out Youth Ministry professor Dr. David Olshine as a mentor.
“I can say that without his influence in my life over the past three years I would not be the person I am today,” Tedder said. “Through all of our ‘Olshine walks,’ and hard questions, I can say that he has become a great friend who has shaped me in more ways than I ever could have imagined, and I am incredibly grateful for him.”
Meanwhile, a graduate of the CIU Seminary & School of Ministry, who preferred not to be identified because he may be ministering in areas hostile to the gospel, credited a number of his professors for helping his earn his Master of Divinity degree, including the late Dr. Bill Larkin who passed away at the beginning of the year.
Dr. Larkin modeled excellence along with humility as a disciple of Jesus Christ,” the student said. “Dr. David Cashin and Dr. Chris Little challenged me the most to present the gospel faithfully and relevantly for the glory of God.”
The commencement speaker was Dr. John Stumbo, the president of the Christian Missionary & Alliance (C&MA) and a 1985 CIU graduate. He said the message to CIU graduates should be different than many educational institutions because CIU graduates are followers of Christ.
“We don’t want to do life on our own strength, our own powers, our own abilities,” Stumbo said. “Our message is completely different. We’ve opened up our hearts to the lordship of Jesus Christ to change us from the inside out, to set our lives on a completely different course. That is a far superior message than ‘dig deep and try hard.’”
Stumbo then paused and said, “I’m so happy to be a follower of Christ.”
Check out the photos from graduation day at the CIU Flickr page:
Hear Dr. John Stumbo's message to the graduates at: http://podcast.ciu.edu/.