The Class of 2022, represented by a total of 98 graduates, received their degrees during the in-person AIIAS 106th Graduation Ceremonies held over the weekend of May 20-22, 2022 at the Siew Huy Auditorium.
The graduating class chose the theme, “Resilience: Thriving in Adversity,” as the majority of the graduates began their classes right before the eruption of the Taal Volcano in January 2020 and the pandemic lockdown which followed two months later.
When God Calls, He Empowers
Elder Erton Kohler, Executive Secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, spoke for the Commencement Service. His message featured the parable of the Good Samaritan. He developed his message around the idea that it is one’s mission to be like the innkeeper, willing to assist and take care of God’s children who are in need. “The Lord gave us the condition for this reason. The Lord does not ask us to do a work for which he has not given us the means to do. He calls, but he empowers. He gives us challenging regions, but before that, he gives us special preparation,” said Kohler. “He gives us a great mission to fulfill. But before that, He gives us the vision and passion necessary to fulfill it.”
Kohler encouraged the graduates to accomplish the mission that they will be receiving once they have received their diploma. “More than getting your diploma today, you are receiving a mission. Commit to use all your abilities to care for, to restore, and to save the wounded that the Good Samaritan (God) puts into your hands using the provision he has already given you, and trusting in the reward that He has already prepared for you. Trust that anyone who accomplishes the work of God using God’s methods will achieve God’s desired outcome,” concluded Kohler.
God’s Guidance Throughout Adversity
The Consecration message was delivered by Speaker and Director of the Jesus 101 Biblical Institute, Dr. Elizabeth Viera Talbot, in which she highlighted lessons from the biblical story of Joseph. She explained how Joseph’s robes and one’s metaphorical “gowns” symbolize seasons of change.
Talbot reminded the graduates that resilience comes from God, developed as a person goes through adversity. She added that it is God’s presence in one’s life that provides the antidote to fear. “Resilience comes from believing what Joseph believed at all times, that God was with him.…When there is adversity, you can thrive in adversity because you have a big God who not only has saved you eternally, which is the gospel, but also gives you His presence, His provision, and His purpose for your life, now.”
“You are covered,” she continued, “completely covered by the blood of Jesus because He’s with you, because you’re His child, because you have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. So you are covered,” says Talbot.
Called To Be Resilient
The Friday evening Consecration service was facilitated by graduating class sponsors Raimond Luntungan, faculty of the business department, and his wife, Dr. Grace Mang, faculty of the public health department. During the dedication, they encouraged the graduates to uphold their theme by relying and ‘hanging on’ to Jesus amidst life’s challenges.
A number of graduates who, in addition to the pandemic challenges, have experienced various struggles testified about how God made them resilient and able to finish their coursework successfully.
“Class ‘Resilience 2022,’ you are called to continue to be resilient in this turbulent world. You can make a difference in this world by starting a difference within yourself, your family, and others.” The Luntungans challenged the class: “Let your light, the light that comes from God, shine out of the darkness of this world.”
Great Things Happen to Those that Trust in God
Baccalaureate speaker Kim Si Young, president of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, delved into the biblical story of Joshua and the Israelites who conquered the city of Jericho. Elder Kim noted that Joshua, being a man of faith in the moment of crisis and despair, looked up to God in heaven for a fight that seemed impossible without His help. “If we look at the large city of Jericho, the way is not seen. We feel frustrated and scared. Our strength is weakened and discouraged. Instead of looking at Jericho, Joshua lifted his eyes to the face of the mighty God. Let us lift our eyes and look up to the great God who is ready to go before us and walk on behalf of us”.
Kim urged the graduates to put their faith in the God who will do great things for those that trust in Him. “As you graduate today and start a new career, please remember that wherever you go, God will go before you. He will draw His sword and fight for you. You can be greater in resilience, thriving in adversity when we trust in our God,” he assured them.
Virtual Graduation Turned In-Person Celebration
The institution conferred degrees on a total of 98 graduates representing 23 countries, and representing 11 out of the 13 world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The AIIAS Seminary presented 37 graduates and 61 graduates were presented by the AIIAS Graduate School.
From the beginning of the pandemic, all of AIIAS’ events were broadcast online as strict precautionary health measures were nationally mandated by governmental authorities. This included the 2021 graduation ceremony, held solely online. With an improvement in the pandemic situation, an opportunity to resume the in-person Commencement was permitted by the authorities, provided all participants and attendees were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This, in turn, opened up an exciting opportunity for the graduates who had initially expected that they would be unable to celebrate their academic milestone with their colleagues, friends, and family members. Attendees followed strict guidelines for wearing masks, social distancing, using hand sanitizer and conducting photo sessions outdoors.
Because this year’s graduation ceremony was initially planned as an online-only event, the guest speakers were unable at short notice to physically travel to AIIAS, and each spoke via a video address as originally planned. The event was also graced by the presence of the Mayor-elect of Silang, Cavite, Atty. Kevin Amutan Anarna, also an alumnus of the AIIAS Academy, who attended the entire ceremony and took significant time to interact with well-wishers afterwards. With him was the Honorable Romeo Toledo, the Captain of Lalaan I, the local governmental administrative unit where AIIAS is located. Response from the graduates and attendees attested to their appreciation of the local governmental support at the event.
By: Sharnie Love Zamora
AIIAS Assistant for Institutional Writing