APU holds the Dinner Rally every year in order to fund-raise for undergraduate scholarships

Azusa Pacific’s annual Dinner Rally was held this past weekend in the Felix Event Center [FEC]. The rally is held for alumni, faculty, and students to raise money for undergraduate scholarships while featuring stories, speeches and performances from the APU community.

The evening began with a reception on West Campus outside of the FEC. The APU jazz band performed while guests mingled and snacked on hors d’oeuvres. The reception also featured an area honoring some notable alumni where guests could read or watch a short video on them.

“It’s a great event, I appreciate the people that put in the hard work to raise money so students can have a quality education and provide opportunities for those that can’t afford to come here without a scholarship,” said Jameson Plaskett, a junior finance major.

These alumni include: Terrell Watson ’15, who is now a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Juli Boit ’01, who was a nursing major and is now making a big impact with hospice care in developing nations, Emily Levelle ’14, a former art major who, while deaf, is still doing what she loves in the art community and Margarita Ramirez ’12, a former political science major who is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University.

“When I came on campus this morning I cried a little because I was full of emotion, so many great memories here,” said alumni Jane Bogard-Armstrong ’84.

Once the guests were then let inside to find their seats, the APU Studio Orchestra and alumni Monique Donnelly ’98 opened the night with a rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”

Two APU alumni sit outside before Dinner rally starts. (Photo courtesy of Jonah Minnihan)

Peggy Campbell, the chair of the board of trustees, started the night and spoke with Donnely about her time here at APU. Campbell brought up the questions of what she misses the most about APU.

“Everyone joining together for one purpose, for God’s glory,” Donnelly said.

After that, Student Government Association (SGA) President James Whitfield came up and prayed for the meal.

Campbell then introduced the first guest of the night, Tiffany Moore ’06, the APU alumna of the year.

Moore is one of the founders and current principle of KIPP Scholar Academy, a middle school for underprivileged kids in Los Angeles. After a short video about what she is doing after her time at APU, she and Campbell had a conversation about Moore and her mission with KIPP Academy.

Moore spoke about how she learned how to love her community by being at APU and that she hopes to be at KIPP Scholar Academy long term in order to give the students the tools she had to succeed.

Moore and Campbell left the stage to be replaced by APU Women’s Bel Canto Choir. After they performed, David Bixby, APU’s executive vice president, introduced Henry Sanchez ’14.

After a short video about Sanchez’s life, he and Bixby had a conversation about Sanchez growing up as a gang member and about his transformation after finding Christ. Sanchez turned his life around and is now pursuing his master’s degree while still working as the lead custodian here at APU. When asked about what his dream is Sanchez responded thoughtfully.

“[It’s] just to be here at APU and continue to invest in student’s lives,” Sanchez said.

Then Bixby introduced Gabriel Martin ’17, a current senior studying biology at APU and the last guest of the night.

Martin is a recipient of the Trustees Scholarship and shared his story about how he would not be able to be where he is now if not for the scholarship. Martin wants to become a doctor eventually.

“APU prepares you for the MCAT as well as any Ivy League school, what makes it special is that they teach you how to love,” Martin said.

APU President Jon Wallace then came to the stage to encourage the guests to give to the university in order to help students like those featured receive the opportunity to attend APU.

“We’re here tonight so you can write checks,” Wallace said jokingly.

While that is not the only reason for the Dinner Rally, it is the main reason. APU receives money to award scholarships to students. However, this night also showcases the impressive things both current students and alumni are doing in their communities and around the world.

“I think the night went really well, everyone seemed to be in a happy and nostalgic mood, which is cool to see,” said junior Sebastian Pachecco, who greeted guests during the event.

About 93 percent of students at Azusa Pacific receive some sort of scholarship to help them attend. Without the Dinner Rally that percentage would be much lower.