News • December 13, 2021

Distinguished students to ring in commencement ceremonies as part of CBU tradition

Distinguished students to ring in commencement ceremonies as part of CBU tradition

Riverside, Calif. (Dec. 13, 2021) – More than 910 students at California Baptist University are eligible to participate in three fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15-16. In keeping with a CBU tradition, each ceremony will begin with the ringing of a bell.

Each toll of the bell represents one decade of the university’s existence. The bell will ring seven times at each of the ceremonies to commemorate more than seven decades of academic excellence. CBU was established in 1950.

In keeping with another aspect of the tradition, graduates from among the highest-ranking students were chosen to ring the bell.

Johnathan Toews, who will receive a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management, will ring the bell for the 9:30 a.m. ceremony on Dec. 15. Rebecca Giovannini, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, will ring the bell at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Dec. 15. David Stahr, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, will do so at the 9:30 a.m. Dec. 16 ceremony.

Giovannini said she was surprised when she learned she had been chosen as a bell ringer. She said her biggest challenge in college was overcoming the fears and anxieties that come with college life and being away from home.

“I am so thankful for my family and my professors for supporting me,” Giovannini said. “How much I’ve learned personally and academically was my biggest success. I have matured a lot during college and everything I learned has helped me become the person I am today and has prepared me for the future.”

She plans on earning her teaching credential and Master of Science in Education on her way to becoming a high school teacher.

“As I began my first classes and met my professors, I started to figure out God’s purpose for me. I have been able to develop an understanding of what I am meant to do in the future and my professors have helped me grow to be able to be successful,” Giovannini said.

Stahr, who is an aircraft electrician in the U.S. Navy, said his biggest challenge was balancing his academic and military responsibilities.

“Many long nights were spent focusing on my schoolwork,” Stahr said. “Without the help of my professors and my loving wife, I would not have been able to achieve this level of success.”

He plans to leave the Navy in 2023 and become an English high school teacher.

“CBU shaped me by showing me how to write and to express myself in creative ways that I was unable to see otherwise. This has also directly impacted my spiritual life and has made me feel a closer and more real connection to God,” Stahr said. “My academic accomplishments and my spiritual progression have made me realize that I should strive to help others learn as I have learned, and that has led me to decide to pursue a career in education.”

Toews said his biggest challenge was achieving his goal of earning a 4.0 GPA. He will work for a construction management company.

“I chose CBU because I was looking for a place where I could be challenged academically and be nurtured in my faith at the same time,” Toews said. “I have had many influential professors both in my major specific courses but also my general education. Dr. Jay Lee, the director for construction management, has been the most influential on my future. He has worked hard to walk with me through this program and provide support for extra opportunities to advance my career.” 

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504