Westmont Magazine A Coastal Commencement
Planned construction and an unexpected wildfire relocate ceremonies to City College
Despite being evacuated from campus the day before, 311 students celebrated their college graduation with exuberance and thankfulness May 9 at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium. Renovation of Westmont’s athletic fields led college officials to move Commencement to the beach-side stadium months ago, but the Jesusita Fire forced Baccalaureate to change locations the morning of the event when fire officials ordered the campus evacuated.
“It’s all about Jesus Christ,” said Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, in his address, “What It’s All About.” He affirmed the value of education in the midst of troubled times. “We need to keep at the task of learning and research to be faithful to God, to promote the cause of righteousness, and to equip ourselves to serve God and bring about justice and peace.”
Barbara Andersen accepted the Westmont Medal on behalf of Paul and Natalie Orfalea and the Orfalea Foundations, which focus on community partnerships. Paul, the founder of Kinko’s Inc., is a noted philanthropist who teaches at USC and UC Santa Barbara. A former Xerox executive, Natalie ran her own firm and raised their two sons. The Orfaleas have dedicated their lives to serving others.
Annie Johnson of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Chris Targoni of Carpinteria, Calif., won the Dean’s Award, given to the leading male and female scholar-athletes.
Diana Small of Martinez, Calif., accepted the Dave Dolan Award for raising awareness of social and spiritual needs and inspiring students to respond.
Alana Woodin of Fresno, Calif., and John Carstensen of El Cajon, Calif., received the Kenneth Monroe Award as the outstanding male and female graduates who have excelled academically, shown excellent leadership skills and inspired students with their integrity, character and faithfulness. Woodin graduated with a GPA of 3.93, and Carstensen achieved a 3.85.
Michael Gardner of Yreka, Calif., won the Faculty Scholarship Award for the highest cumulative grade point average during college. He majored in physics and computer science and earned a 4.0 GPA.
Many graduates decorated their hats or left mementos with faculty. Psychology students removed pacifiers tied to their tassels and handed them to pregnant Professor Andrea Gurney. Graduates in liberal studies each brought an apple for retiring professors Gayle and Ruth Tucker. Sociology majors dropped canned goods for the food bank into a box on stage.
David Newton, professor of entrepreneurial finance, said economics and business graduates were “heading into a volatile market but weren’t looking for a bailout.”