A New Journey Awaits Winter Graduates of 2022

Bethel celebrated 245 graduates from the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Adult & Professional Studies, and Graduate School last weekend at two commencement ceremonies. Graduates reflected on their journey so far and what awaits them in a new chapter ahead.

By Marcus Dip Silas S’25

December 21, 2022 | 12:50 p.m.

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Bethel held its 2022 Winter Commencements for the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Adult & Professional Studies, and Graduate School in Benson Great Hall on Friday, December 16, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. President Ross Allen opened both ceremonies with an affirmation of Bethel’s continued goal throughout its 150-year history to send out graduates who are academically excellent and well-rounded students, leaders, and servants motivated by Jesus’ love.

Allen acknowledged graduates who were the first in their families to graduate from an institution of higher education and invited them to stand as the hall erupted in cheers and applause. President Allen went on to express his appreciation to this year’s graduates. “This class is especially important and meaningful to me. You entered during a season that you never expected, that none of us expected,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to the learning process and normal class schedules. “As we pause today to reflect on those experiences, there are many great ones as well. In those challenges, God was developing you and preparing you,” he continued.

“Who we are and who we are becoming matters at Bethel because it matters to God.”

— President Ross Allen

Following President Allen’s welcoming speech, Associate Professor of Music Jonathan Veenker offered the invocation by reminding graduates of the sage words in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” University Provost Robin Rylaanrsdam honored two Bethel professors, Professor Emerita of English Susan Brooks and Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences Teresa DeGolier. Both professor emeriti, who will soon be retiring, were acknowledged for their contributions to their fields and the Bethel community.

This year’s graduate reflections were given by Sarah Rejoice Zalanga ’22, Zachary Sporcic CAPS’22, and Ashley Bonsen GS’22 for their respective graduating classes.

In her reflection, Zalanga spoke about her own personal growth she observed throughout her time at Bethel. She recalls the worries she had as an incoming student concerning college life and academics. She remembers when she was nervous about making new friends at Bethel. The fears she had were assuaged as her first semester began. She discovered that she loved her classes and professors, and she also found belonging within a group of friends she is confident will remain lifelong companions and confidantes. During her time at Bethel, Zalanga’s worldview was shaped by community, and that encouraged her to be open to all of life’s possibilities. Her path has led her to earn a B.A. in Community Health, and taught her to walk by faith, not by fear. “Entering a new stage of life can open many fears of the unknown things of the future,” Zalanga said to her graduating classmates. “But I encourage you to have faith in yourself and lean into the unknown and the adventures life has to offer you.”

“Faith makes things possible, not easy.”

— Sarah Zalanga ’22

Sporcic reflected on his experience as an adult learner and the challenges he faced in his academic journey, obtaining his B.A in Christian Ministries with honors. “As adult learners, we all come into this journey with a healthy amount of baggage,” he said. “We have all spent our lives navigating through our own unique experiences and stories. Many of us have been on this journey looking for truth. We’re looking for purpose. We’re looking for belonging. We’re looking for direction.”

“Being at Bethel put me in the circumference of truth in the proximity of people with purpose and leaders with purpose.”

— Zachary Sporcic CAPS’22

Bonsen’s reflection was titled “The Path,” and she encouraged her fellow graduates to tread the path that was uniquely created for each one of them. While challenges in life may be poised to lead people off their path, Bonsen was confident that her fellow graduates are capable of staying the course by trusting God’s faithful leadership in their lives. “I am so proud of you for making it to this point in your path,” she said. “You are better now than you ever have been before.” Bonsen graduated Bethel with a M.A in Teaching.

“You are a better person, smarter, and wiser than you were before you started your journey with Bethel.”

— Ashley Bonsen GS’22

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