News • April 19, 2023

Graduates share moments of their educational journeys: ‘Enjoy your time at CBU’

Graduates share moments of their educational journeys: ‘Enjoy your time at CBU’

Riverside, Calif. (April 19, 2023) – As spring commencement approaches, excitement is in the air at California Baptist University as nearly 1,800 students prepare to become part of the Class of 2023.

CBU will hold five ceremonies for graduates to celebrate with family and friends on April 24-26.

Combined applications for graduation consist of 21 candidates for doctoral degrees, 600 for master’s degrees and 1,174 candidates for undergraduate degrees. We interviewed a few graduates to find out about their time at CBU.


Briana Beltran
Bachelor of Arts in Spanish

Briana Beltran will start a master’s program in Spanish in the fall. Her goal is to teach Spanish at California Baptist University.

Before starting college, Beltran had offers to other schools, but she felt God wanted her at CBU, she said.

“I am grateful to have come to CBU as I have grown in my walk with the Lord, and He has been faithful to me,” she said.

Her first semester was great. She got a job at Spiritual Life, met friends and learned to balance school, work and personal life.

Then the pandemic hit. It was a huge adjustment when everything closed down, and she felt lonely and isolated, Beltran said. She took a semester off. After she returned to school, her dad had major heart surgery and Beltran had to care for him. Prayers by a professor meant the world and she persevered, Beltran said.

She was elected as president of the Spanish Honor Society. She also became the first peer mentor in the Spanish program, meeting with new students to help them learn about the program and provide other information.

“In this position, I strived to honor God by helping students overcome their struggles and I strived to pray for them,” Beltran said. “This position allowed me to see God work in the lives around me and I learned so much about resilience.”

Beltran was appreciative of help from Dr. Khamla Dhouti Martinez, director of the Spanish program, and Dr. Noé Ruvalcaba, associate professor of Spanish.

“Dr. Martinez has been the most inspirational professor. She is so caring and gives solid Christian advice. She believed in me when I didn't believe in myself,” Beltran said. “Dr. Ruvalcaba also was of great help as he always takes the time to pray for his students and is great at teaching literature.”

CBU provided her with the opportunity to learn how to honor God in everything and to see her career as an opportunity to serve God and others, Beltran said.

“Instead of expecting good things to happen, I have learned that I already have the best gift, and that is redemption through Jesus Christ,” she said. “Adopting this mindset helps me to view my struggles and obstacles as an opportunity to lean closer to God. And, in the same manner when accomplishing something I know that it is because of God's strength.” 

Kevon Lee

Graduates share moments of their educational journeys: ‘Enjoy your time at CBU’Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership and Student Development

While in elementary school, Kevon Lee had to repeat third grade. Lee, who was in the foster care system, also was told by a teacher he would never go to college. But Lee persevered.

“I wanted to pursue a higher education because I wanted to change the generational cycle of no one in my family getting a college degree,” Lee said. “I wanted to set a new standard in my family of educated and hardworking people.”

Lee is a full-time motivational speaker and helps with the California Student Opportunity and Access Program at California State University, San Bernardino. Cal-SOAP focuses on first-generation, college-bound and low-income students.

The research he had to do for his higher education portfolio and the hands-on experience he received will help him in the working world.

“Dr. Keyisha Holmes helped me along my way because not only did she help me with my studies, but she helped me in the professional world. She wanted to see me succeed in all aspects of my life. I believe this is what a great professor should do,” Lee said.

Adrian Jacobs
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
Bachelor of Arts in English

Along with being a student, Adrian Jacobs is a communication specialist in the School of Christian Ministries, which includes social media, student tracking and other administrative work. However, her future goal is to teach in an undergraduate English program. 

Jacobs said in high school she had her sights set on moving across the country and pursuing a different career path.

“But when the time came to choose a college, God softened my heart toward CBU and made it clear that this is where He wanted me to be,” Jacobs said. “Its community and Christ-centered atmosphere have played an integral role in developing and strengthening my faith. My classes have both been challenging and incredibly engaging. I am deeply indebted to CBU for the impact it has had on my life.”

Jacobs took a class with Dr. Sam Welbaum, a professor in the philosophy department and the director of the honors program, and fell in love with philosophy. She took several more classes with him.

“His dedication to incorporating a deep love for God into our studies is something for which I am incredibly grateful,” Jacobs said. “Dr. Welbaum has been so kind in providing opportunities both in and outside the classroom for us as students to grow in our studies and careers.”

Her classes shaped her career path, and she grew an appreciation for both her majors.

“Numerous faculty members and mentors have generously poured into me and helped prepare me for developing a career in academia,” Jacobs said. “The people I have met at CBU have been so gracious and have given me so many incredible opportunities.”

Her freshman year was online due to COVID-19. Her degree choice changed frequently, but by her second year, she found the areas she was passionate about. She then set her sights on graduating in three years, which she did.

“Along the way, I met friends who will last my entire lifetime, participated in events and experiences which grew me both as a student and a person, and got the privilege of studying the things I love under the direction of excellent professors,” Jacobs said.

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504