We have been to many graduations over the years varying from 8th grade promotions to my brother graduating from University of California at Santa Barbara with his PhD. Typically most of these you don’t remember much about the ceremony except that it was too long and usually boring. This last Thursday was an amazing exception to this typical trend of too long and too boring. Our intern, Jenessa Fesmire, graduated from Grand Canyon University.
I have been part of the GCU culture over the last three years as I have been fortunate to have interns from this college. These interns received credit for their service by receiving a scholarship. I know that many from the outside looking in at GCU see it now as a for profit business that might have lost touch with it’s spiritual roots. This last Thursday helped me at least see that GCU still has a spiritual force that is propelling it into the future.
I believe the longest ceremony we have attended in the last decade was pushing the three-hour limit. The challenge was that the person we had come to watch was at the very last because of receiving a Master’s degree. I can’t fathom what it would have been like if I had little kids that were squirming around for that length of time. GCU did an impressive job of getting it done in little over an hour! The key to the day’s success was their choice in their main speaker. So often this is someone with degrees tacked behind their name but in the midst of all this don’t seem to understand how to communicate in a succinct fashion that actually has substance and value without boring you to death.
GCU asked a retired fighter pilot who was also a professional golfer to speak. His dream as a kid growing up was to be a pilot and a golfer. This would seem to be an odd combination yet; God used this to shape the life of Dan Rooney. It was a privilege and honor to sit for about 15 minutes under the gifted story telling of this passionate individual. Major Rooney shared his story of how he ended up becoming someone who is committed to excellence and Christ through using these two words; volition and synchronicity. It was rather interesting to have a few of my teens actually talk about his message a few days after graduation.
I was challenged and blessed to receive a very straight forward but profound message from Major Rooney during the GCU graduation. All of a sudden all of the negative feelings I had towards this university that wanted to be big and take over Phoenix changed. I imagined the process of selecting a main speaker for the graduation and the list of potentials. Yet, they choose a man who has passion for God and his country. He spoke first hand about understanding the cost of freedom in our great country and the ultimate sacrifice many have made. His real focus was on the great sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf that we could be reconciled to God.
As the graduates tossed their mortarboards into the air the words of Major Dan stood out. I was impressed that the GCU Board had made such an excellent choice which set the tone for the university in the coming year as their students pursed understanding volition and synchronicity. The foundation which the Major has founded will be a real help to those who have sacrificed a parent, sibling or friend for their country.