The Class of 1966 was the first graduating class to officially don the name of Azusa Pacific College after a merger between Los Angeles Pacific College and Azusa College was completed the year prior. Although the future of the school was unclear, it was agreed that it was going to be a God-centered journey for this group of students.
Stan Newell, a biology major and basketball player of then Los Angeles Pacific College, remarked how the transition affected him as a student and as a Christian.
“We were a fully accredited liberal arts college and we brought our science and our football and everything over here and God was in it. I never heard God speak to me verbally, but I almost did when I came. Basically God said, ‘if I’m in this, I’m gonna bless this institution. You just sit back and watch this.’ To see where it is today is unbelievable,” Newell said.
Newell said his brother Jerry Newell, an estate lawyer in his professional career, was fundamental in the formation and funding of the school in the early years through clients in his attorney work. Stan Newell received alumnus of the year in 1980 and has involved himself in other Christian organizations as well as many sports teams in Seattle, including the Sonics and the Huskies.
“Because I was in sports, I really had this magical ride and we’ve really been blessed. I still play basketball three times a week,” Stan Newell said.
After his graduation in 1966, Stan Newell married his college sweetheart Lois (now Newell) and continued his studies into medical school.
The afternoon continued with a musical performance and a reflection from alumnus Cliff Hamlow. With the rest of the reunited alumni, he reminisced on how two different groups of students from two struggling schools began a tremendous academic and spiritual journey.
“This was a very special year. It was a year that God could see down to where you would be here,” Hamlow said. “I don’t know that we could see this place being like it is today.”
Together, they remembered the athletic rivalry that existed between the two schools, but also how various faculty members impacted the trajectory of the school and the lives of both student bodies.
“We had come together and we were committed to making it work because we felt it was something that God wanted to happen,” Hamlow said.
Jessica Sanchez, an organizer for the alumni event, expressed the importance for alumni reunions to take place.
“Our main goal is to maintain relationships with alumni,” Sanchez said. “I would say that history is important and just because somebody has graduated doesn’t mean that they can’t still teach current students and current staff. There’s a lot to be learned from groups like this one.”