ZU Magazine managing editor and ZU Podcast executive producer Candelario Plascencia writes his final article for ZU Magazine
When I think back to the first day I moved to Azusa Pacific, I remember the mix of emotions I felt. I was so excited to come to the university that I forgot to pack any underwear and cried when my grandparents left. I’m proud to say I only tear up every other time my family leaves me.
As my last day at the ZU is approaching, I am nothing but grateful for the experience I had. In this article, I’ll dissect some of my yearly highlights at APU.
Freshmen year: Second South
I was terrified when my family left me here at APU. I didn’t know anybody and at the time, and I wasn’t in the mood to make friends. After two weeks alone in my dorm, I considered dropping out of APU. It wasn’t until my roommate, Ashtin Thomas, and I started to find some common ground that I began to make some friends. We both liked Steven Universe, Pokémon and playing Fortnite.
Once we got close, I was able to open my heart to the other men in my hall. I soon learned that doing so was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. In that hall, I made friends that I know will be around for a lifetime. Thank you, Jacob, Ashtin, Marcus, Madi and Thomas for being the first additions to my new family.
Sophomore year: Luau and the Philippines
At this point in my life, I had never left the country. That all changed when I signed up to go to the Philippines for an Action Team.
My biggest fear about joining an Action Team was that I wouldn’t know anybody. However, God decided to lead me to a team that was led by two good friends. While in the Philippines, I encountered many challenges that tore me down. It was humid, I had two allergic reactions and experienced a language barrier with the people in the town we resided. However, all those challenges helped me grow closer to God.
I’d do it all again if I could.
Before I left for the Philippines, I participated in Luau. My good friend Kimi encouraged me to join even though I was hesitant at first. I genuinely could not see myself doing it. But with weekly practices and help from friends, I somehow managed to have the time of my life.
Junior year: Mod Squad and Mexico trip
Junior year, I was blessed with a Resident Advisor position in the Shire Mods. I was placed in H-Court and got to serve transfer students. After some pizza parties, a trip to the beach and various self-care nights, my residents became more than residents. They became my sisters, and I can’t thank them enough for how much they helped me grow. It wasn’t just the residents that helped me grow — I was placed in a group of other RAs and an RDs who loved unconditionally, challenged each other and taught me to do the same. I even grew close with RA’s in all other areas (you know who you are <3).
Thanksgiving break of 2019, I co-lead a team in Mexico. As a first-time leader, I struggled to keep my team organized and safe, these challenges were twice as hard since my co-lead wasn’t much of a leader. However, these challenges only helped me grow. My team and I served at the Men’s Prison and got to interact with prisoners during outdoor hours. On our last day there, we met a man who asked us to pray for him. When we said yes, he started to tear up. He told us no one had prayed for him in seven years and I thank God that our team got to end that cycle.
Senior year: UV West and ZU Media
As I entered my senior year, I was promoted to an Executive Producer for ZU Podcast and a Managing Editor for ZU Magazine. Getting the opportunity to help people write articles and editing them has only helped me grow as a journalist. Thank you to the staff of ZU Media (present and past) and our advisor for creating an environment where we could hone our craft.
This year, I served as a returner RA in University Village. While COVID-19 made our job harder, I thank God I had the UV West team to help me through it. Steve, Ginee, Heather, Allyssa and Lulu, thank you for the endless laughs, encouraging words and strength.
While COVID-19 turned my senior year into a mess, I’m glad I had my small group of friends on campus to help me get through it. From trips to Classic Coffee or movie/game nights, I will cherish these memories for years to come.
I have always found comfort in returning to APU, but this time when I leave … I’m not coming back. I can’t say I’ve come to terms with that feeling, and I may never. However, I will always look back at these past four years and smile. I have grown in ways that no one ever expected. I’ve discovered my passions, made some lifelong friends and grew closer with our Father in Heaven.
I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience.