By Tien Thai
APU celebrated the graduation anniversaries of the class of 1977 and the class of 1992
As homecoming approached last week, Azusa Pacific University hosted a variety of events representing the spirit of truly coming back. Homecoming was an especially important event for two groups of APU alumni celebrating their graduation anniversaries.
The class of 1977 and the class of 1992, celebrated their 40th and 25th anniversary, respectively. The reunion happened in the 1899 Dining Hall Saturday, Oct. 21.
Jennifer Dean-Hill, an alumna from the class of 1992, shared her favorite memories during her time at APU.
“My favorite memories are meeting my husband Jake Hill, working in Jon Wallace’s office as the chapel secretary for the chapel bulletin, eating fresh rolls in the caff when I was working in the caff, late night donut runs, late night dates with groups of people running around town doing fun things, bonfires at the beach, the dances, choir and chapel services,” Dean-Hill said.
She said that a lot has changed since her time at APU.
“The food has significantly improved since I was here, and the campus is significantly bigger,” Dean-Hill added.
Dean-Hill explained that her love for APU and its community has motivated her to come back. She also said that APU is a beautiful place and it makes her feel very nostalgic since her friends and family all grew up in this area.
“I’m so honored to be a part of such a great school. They have done such a great job living out their vision, growing significantly and expanding the school for other people to come and have a fabulous learning opportunity,” Dean-Hill said.
Dean-Hill said that APU students should learn from homecoming, hold onto the honor of being an APU student, keep the vision of APU moving forward and broaden the APU culture into other places.
For Dean-Hill, homecoming was just as enjoyable 25 years after her undergraduate experience.
“It was just beautiful. I had a fabulous time in this beautiful place with beautiful weather. I love the leaders and it’s great to see their faces again,” Dean-Hill said.
It was truly a full circle for Dean-Hill. She served the alumni at Dinner Rally when she was an undergraduate and sang in the choir during homecoming weekend 25 years ago.
“It just seems to be similar like-minded people, which are very loving, friendly, service-oriented, and that was fun to be able to see through different generations,” Dean-Hill said. “As an alumni, I like that same thing, just getting to see different generations of people and they all seem to all have the kind of like-mindedness.”
Another alumnus from the class of 1992, Bill Coats, shared all of his favorite Homecoming memories and experiences from being an APU undergraduate. These included hanging out with his friends, “the Rock” tradition, working at Mexicali, the Russia mission trip and football games.
He acknowledged the differences that he noticed from his time at APU.
“The campus is a lot larger, probably twice the size. I think the student body number is also two or three times the size,” Coats said. “There’s many more programs that you can major in and the food is definitely better—there’s a lot of different places that you can now eat on and off campus as well.”
The one aspect that Coats saw stay the same is how the staff and faculty still professionally serve students and Christ in what they do.
“My motivation was to come back and see the campus, and see good friends that we graduated with 25 year ago,” Coats said. “To reconnect with the place, that is very special to me.”
Coats said that he felt proud to see APU growing and changing. He said that the various journeys and ways of changing, the world that current students are embarking on, are really exciting. He also shared some advice that he had for the current APU students from his experience as an alumnus.
“I hope that they are proud to go to APU, and hopefully that students can take in a deep sense of love for this place and appreciate what they have while they are here,” Coats said.
Coats said his favorite homecoming weekend memories were going to the football game in APU gear and cheering, celebrating and hanging out with friends.
“I think as a student, we used to do the homecoming parade, that was both fun and challenging, because it was a competition, so it was exciting to see the different floats that would come out and see the competition between different living areas,” Coats said. “As an alumni, it’s just fun to be back here on campus and feel the excitement of Homecoming weekend, and see all the students really enjoying it as well.”
Fellow APU alumnus from the class of 1992, Greg Nassir, shared his favorite memories and experiences while attending APU.
“My favorite memories are definitely the friendships that I made, it was phenomenal to be at a Christ-centered community where the friendships were centered on God first,” Nassir said. “We had an amazing time together, we learned a lot together, but the friendships are the same people that I’m still spending time with 25 years later.”
Nassir said the spirit of being a Christ-centered university remained the same, regardless of changes and differences of the size and additional campus.
He was motivated to come back for homecoming weekend by being able to stay involved on campus because he lives close by. He comes back for games and events as an alumnus.
“I hope my kids will go here someday, and it is special to be with some friends from out of town that I have not seen for a long time,” Nassir said. “I was always proud to have gone here. I am thankful that it is such a quality institution. The campus was beautiful then, but it is even more beautiful now.”
Nassir shared his advice for current students.
“It is a precious time, and there is no other time in your life like it. So really be intentional about seeking out who God is calling you to be, and don’t worry about what are you going to do when you graduate,” Nassir said. “Just worry about who He is calling you to be today, and respond to that Holy Spirit leading into your life. Do well in the work He puts before you today. What you are going to do when you leave will come to you at the right time.”