JULY 2022

James Forkum

A ten-time Hall of Fame member, as a player, coach, and administrator and a lifetime achievement award, countless accolades for coaching excellence, recognition as a distinguished educator and educator of the year by multiple entities, a published author, and respected expert in his field— this list could go on for pages. Still, when describing himself, James Forkum, Ph.D., ’69, considers himself a coach of coaches and a teacher of teachers, simple as that. For over 45 years, he has considered it his purpose and privilege to mentor hundreds of young people as well as many other teachers and coaches. 

“I lead a purpose-driven life and have always done so. I have been blessed with exceptional health, an unending energy level, and a passion for teaching and developing young people into solid Christian citizens,” said Jim.

California Baptist University, then California Baptist College, played a significant role in Jim’s life journey. He graduated from high school in Sacramento and applied to CBC after encouragement from his church and Dick Spangenburg, ’67, with whom he is still friends today. Jim felt the smaller environment would allow him to thrive and he did just that. He made the varsity basketball team his freshman year and became a starter mid-season. He graduated as the leading career scorer in program history. His teammates, Stan Smith, ’68, Robert Hisquierdo, ’68, Virgil Dahl, ’67, and Dave King, ’69,  became his lifelong friends. But the best teammate he made during his time at CBC was his wife, Sherry, ’73.

Before meeting Sherry, Jim remarks that he was far from a stellar student. In fact, having fun and getting into mischief was more his focus. Nevertheless, he did just enough to stay eligible for sports. He and Sherry married his senior year, and Jim realized basketball was not how he would make a living and take care of his family. So, he buckled down and earned a 4.0 GPA and President’s Honor Roll. “Meeting Sherry changed my life and grounded me,“ said Jim. After graduating, teaching, coaching, and his family became his focus and have been for 53 years and counting.

After many years teaching and coaching at various schools, Jim began his tenure at Santa Rosa Junior College. Between 2007-2014, Jim administrated a large academic program that offered over 230 different course offerings. He supervised a staff of over 65 full-time and adjunct faculty members, developed curriculum, oversaw course scheduling, analyzed student outcomes and more. In addition, he managed a twenty-sport athletics program and over 400 student-athletes. Jim’s teams won over 35 Big 8 Conference championships, 10 Nor Cal titles and five state championships during his seven-year tenure.

With many state and national champions, multiple coach of the year awards, and numerous other accolades, Jim was honored as California Community College Health Educator of the Year in 2005. In 2014, he again was recognized as the California Community College Athletics Director’s Association for his leadership and service to California community college athletics. He was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NATYCAA) Hall of Fame in 2016, the California Community College Athletics Directors Association (CCCADA) Hall of Fame in 2017, and in 2018 Jim was honored with the L. William Miller Award in Washington, D.C. The award is the highest honor given by NATYCAA in recognition of administrative excellence, professionalism, and integrity. That year he was also inducted into the Hartnell College Athletics Hall of Fame as a men’s basketball coach along with his nationally 5th ranked 1994-95 team. In June of 2021, Jim was inducted into the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame for athletics administration.

Of all the awards and honors bestowed upon Jim during his long and successful career, the most meaningful and the one he is most proud of is the Lancer Medal for Lifelong Achievement he received in 2014. Jim was living in Egypt at the time and flew in for the occasion and then flew back the next day! “To summarize, I owe Cal Baptist everything in terms of my personal and professional successes,” said Jim. “I made wonderful lifelong friends, met my wife, got my degree, had excellent professors — what more could one want or expect in a college experience!”

Many CBC faculty members contributed to helping Jim become the person he is. He credits Dr. Dorothy Argow, Dr. Wayne Marler, Lloyd Aycock and Dr. George Musacchio. “I give them full credit for believing in me even when I did not deserve it. They stood by me, challenged me, and made me believe in myself when I needed it most,” Jim said.

Jim retired from collegiate coaching and teaching in 2002 and transitioned to an administrative role until 2014. However, Jim says he just can’t get retirement right after living such a fast-paced life as a coach and educator for so many years. After three attempts at retiring, Jim recently started a position as the learning center director for St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tuscon, Arizona. He will also coach the varsity boys’ basketball team and swim team. Jim has also been teaching graduate classes at Concordia University Irvine in the Masters in Coaching and Athletics Administration program. He was recognized in June 2022 as the Adjunct Excellence in Teaching award recipient for the past academic year.

As long as his health, passion and energy allow, Jim plans to continue with his current retirement plans — of not actually being retired! Jim and Sherry plan to continue their love of travel and hope to visit their last continent, Antarctica and join the Continent Club. They will also continue their research of generational differences. As lifelong learners, they hope to pass on their knowledge and passion to others.

MAY 2022

Agustin AvantesAgustin Avantes, MSW, ’21, believes God has a plan for all of us and the beauty of his plan is the opportunity he gives us to choose our path. Agustin’s journey has led him to work as a public servant for over 14 years in the Inland Empire. He is currently serving as the Director of Services at Catholic Charities San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

He currently oversees the largest geographic area in the entire county as well as the ones with more need. He is part of the fifth generation of Catholic Charities San Bernardino and Riverside Counties to fight poverty and its consequences. They help strengthen families by enabling them to find new opportunities to change their future. He oversees both counties’ community centers, immigration programs, and counseling centers.

Agustin feels that in his current role, he can impact his community by providing help and creating hopewhich is the mission of Catholic Charities. He is currently finalizing a proposal with San Bernardino Community College, Crafton Hills College, Riverside Community College and College of the Desert with a new initiative to host students in his agency. The intent is to provide the next generation with experience in the field, mentoring and an opportunity to help the community. In addition, students will be compensated for their service and, in doing so, also have the chance to graduate debt-free after completing their college education. He also helped Catholic Charities secure and obtain much-needed funding to continue to support the communities in both counties with basic needs such as food and shelter. 

Agustin credits CBU with helping him reinforce and strengthen the value he holds dear. He still goes back to his classwork from CBU for guidance with the challenges he faces each day. The attentiveness and genuine care he received from CBU faculty continue today as he still reaches out to them for advice and support. Additionally, the curriculum covered in the MSW program was instantly applicable to his employment and prepared him for taking on this opportunity as a director of one of the most prominent non-profits in the region. CBU gave him the opportunity to collaborate with local organizations such as Mexican Christian Children’s Aid (MCCA), where he helped deliver food and much-needed supplies to orphanages in Baja, California, each month. He also worked with the former Mayor of Riverside, Rusty Bailey, on the Love Your Neighbor Collaborative (LYNC) program. The program strives to help reduce and prevent homelessness in the City of Riverside. Recently, Agustin was awarded as the Social Work Advocate of the Month by CBU’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Agustin hopes to continue inspiring and empowering others to be the best version of themselves. His goal is to keep serving his community and those in need. He likes to quote Thomas Merton when describing his plan. Merton said, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.” The need will always outweigh the resources, and Agustin plans to try and help balance the scale in his community.

Agustin spends his time away from work with his three and half year old son, who he says brings balance to his life and is his inspiration to be the best version of himself. He also enjoys watching sports and is a huge fan of Kobe Bryant and Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality.” Additionally, he spends time at car shows with his 1968 Mustang, which he rebuilt with his dad, who is now at home in heaven.

MARCH 2022

Jacob WasteJacob Waste, ’17
Hall of Fame Inductee - Wrestling

Jacob Waste is CBU wrestling’s career leader with an 88.6 winning percentage (78-10), while his 78 wins are tied for fourth all-time, despite just a three-year career in a Lancer singlet.

The Minnesota native not only qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships as a Super Region IV champion all three years but achieved All-American status with top-five finishes each season. He also won two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles.

Jacob’s final season ended with him winning the D-II 197-pound championship and RMAC Wrestler of the Year award in 2017. He also led the Lancers to top-30 finishes in D-II in his three seasons, including third and sixth-place finishes in 2017 and 2016, respectively. CBU also won a Super Region IV title in 2017 and the 2016 RMAC crown as a team.

Brian SharpBrian Sharp, ’11
Hall of Fame Inductee - Baseball

Brian Sharp helped guide CBU baseball to back-to-back Golden State Athletic Conference championships in 2010-11 and was twice named the GSAC Player of the Year as a result. He was also named an NAIA All-American Second Teamer and was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2011.

To this day, Sharp is the Lancers’ career leader with 89 stolen bases and ranks second with 165 runs scored. He’s the only Lancer to steal more than 30 bases in a season and has done so twice.

The shortstop also ranks 10th in program history with 45 doubles and in the top-15 with 208 hits, 327 total bases, a .354 batting average, 134 runs batted in, 67 walks and 588 at-bats.

Sharp put together one of the best offensive seasons in team history in 2010, with 35 stolen bases (first), 68 runs (third), 60 RBI (10th), 138 total bases and a .488 on-base percentage (eighth). Those stats still all rank top-10 in CBU single-season history.

Ashley BoydAshley Boyd, ’10
Hall of Fame Inductee - Softball

Ashley Boyd spearheaded CBU’s offenses in the 2009-10 seasons. She made NAIA All-American and All-GSAC Teams both years and was the 2010 Conference Player of the Year and 2009 NAIA National Championship MVP when softball won its first-ever national title.

The shortstop is one of – if not the best hitter in CBU history. She’s the team’s career leader with a .448 batting average, .848 slugging and .516 on-base percentages. She also ranks second with 37 home runs, fifth in stolen base percentage (85.7), sixth in runs (156), eighth in total bases (341) and 10th in doubles (42).

She still holds CBU’s single-season records for hits (100), total bases (178), runs scored (82) and walks (37) and ranks second in batting average (.467), slugging percentage (.867), on-base percentage (.524), doubles (22) and home runs (21).

The Lancers went 240-20, won two national championships (2012 NCCAA and 2009 NAIA) and four conference titles with three 60-plus win seasons from 2009-12. From 2009-10, the team went 125-9 and also placed third in the NAIA in 2010.

Michael SmithMichael Smith, ’17
Hall of Fame Inductee - Basketball

Michael Smith graduated as one of the most decorated student-athletes to come through the Lancer program. During his four-year career, the Lancers advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs in all four years and finished with an impressive 104-23 overall record.

In his senior season, he averaged 24.9 points per game (third-best national average) and finished his career as the all-time leading scorer at CBU and in the PacWest with 2,031 career points.  

Smith was a two-time PacWest Player of the Year, DII West Region Player of the Year, a top-10 finalist for the Bevo Francis Award, six-time All-American honoree, and PacWest Tournament MVP. He was also named the “Area College Men’s Player of the Year” by the Press-Enterprise after his senior season.

He is mentioned 46 times in the CBU record books and holds multiple top marks in the program.

Cassidy MihalkoCassidy Mihalko, ’17
Hall of Fame Inductee - Basketball

Cassidy Mihalko reaped four All-American, two All-West Region First Team and three All-PacWest and West Region All-Tournament awards in her career. In her senior season, she earned First Team All-American distinction from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Conference Commissioner’s Association and was named the PacWest Player of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Her 2,231 career points and 16.9 points-per-game average rank second and fourth in CBU history. She also boasts the highest career three-point percentage (.415), third best free throw percentage (.816) and fourth most rebounds (789) for the Lancers. She set a single-season record with 734 points in 2016-17 with her 19.9 average ranking fifth.

Kamille DiazKamille Diaz, ’17
Hall of Fame Inductee - Basketball

Kamille Diaz was a two-time All-West Region First Teamer, made two All-West Regional Teams and was named the West Region Tournament MVP in 2016-17. She was also voted to three All-PacWest Teams and was the conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2014 and 2017 PacWest Tournament MVP.

She ranks fourth in program history with 1,926 points and ninth with 16.9 points per game. She’s the career leader in three pointers (398) and ranks second in assists (688), while her 5.13 assists per game rank fourth.

California Baptist amassed a 109-25 record with Mihalko and Diaz on the roster from 2014-17. In the process, the Lancers advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament semifinals twice, including the 2015 championship game, won two West Region crowns (2015, 2017) and three PacWest titles, with two regular-season trophies (2016-17) and the 2017 tournament crown.

Emma HoldenEmma Holden, ’12
Hall of Fame Inductee - Softball

Emma Holden is one of the great arms in a Lancer program that’s had no shortage of dominant pitchers. She was named a Pitcher of the Year five times, with three-straight at the conference level from 2010-12 and two in a row on a national level (2011 NAIA, 2012 NCCAA). She also made three All-American teams, four all-conference teams and was also a four-time scholar athlete.

She ranks first in CBU history with a .141 batting average and 1,009 strikeouts (10.98 per seven innings). She also ranks second with 98 wins, 103 starts, 643.1 innings pitched and 66 complete games. Her 1.12 earned-run average ranks third, along with 130 appearances and 34 shutouts.

Holden also still holds the Lancers’ single-season records for strikeouts (351), strikeouts per seven innings (11.82), hits allowed per seven innings (2.31), while her 35 wins and 0.59 ERA rank second and third.


Ross StoutRoss Stout, ’07
Young Alumni Achievement Award

Ross Stout has been managing the Stout Team at KUD Properties Residential since 2014 as team leader, and is a top 1% producing real estate agent in the Coachella Valley. The Stout Team at KUD Properties has been a top 10 team over the last three years, closing $68 Million in 2019 as the number 10 team in the Valley and closing $102 Million in 2020 as the number 8 team in the Valley, and just closed over $144 Million in 2021.

As a Coachella Valley native, Ross resides in Indian Wells with his wife, Jennifer, of 14 years and three children – his daughter Taylor, his daughter Karsyn, and his son Jake.

As a former minor league baseball player and a high-end construction supervisor, AND as a Business Administration major at CBU, the skills he acquired as a Lancer were tailored to his career path. Ross spent three years at Cal Baptist, from 2004-2007, playing baseball for Gary Adcock for two of them, and coming back for one more year to graduate.


Jessie BekkedahlJessie Bekkedahl, ’04
Alumni Service Award

Jessie Bekkedahl was born and raised in San Diego, and started her college career at Cal Baptist in the fall of 1998, just as CBC became CBU.  While at CBU she played on the women’s softball team for three years before graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies in 2002. She continued her education with CBU, earning her teaching credentials in 2003 and a Masters of Science Degree in Education in 2004.

This is her 19th year teaching in the Riverside Unified School District. Although she is currently teaching kindergarten, throughout her career, she has taught grades K-5 as well as intervention. Kindergarten is her favorite grade to teach because she gets to see the amazing growth the students make in just the span of a year.

When schools closed for in-person learning and moved to online lessons in 2020, Jessie needed a way to connect with the students and to help keep them engaged virtually. She turned to her rescue pup Ginger (aka Professor Ginger), who helped her make lesson videos on the topics they were learning about. Jessie started sharing her videos with other teachers, and today Professor Ginger’s  YouTube Channel has 107 videos and over 800 subscribers!

Professor Ginger has been featured in the Press Enterprise, on Spectrum News 1, and in People Magazine!

Jessie is an avid baseball fan, and she’s had the amazing opportunity to attend the San Diego Padres Fantasy camp in 2019 and 2020, playing baseball with former Padres players and other fans who love the game as much as she does. In addition to playing ball, she also enjoys snowboarding, off-roading, camping, and spending time with friends and family.


Will TaylorWill Taylor, ’94
Alumnus of the Year

Will Taylor was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi before his parents moved to Los Angeles when he was a toddler. He comes from a military family who spent most of their lives outside of the United States. After a brief stint at March Air Force Base in the early eighties, his family was assigned to Rhein Main Air Force Base in Germany for four years, Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina for two years and later transferred to Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo Japan (where he graduated high school). Will Taylor returned to Riverside in 1990 to attend California Baptist University.

Will graduated from CBU in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an Accounting and Finance emphasis. While attending CBU, he was a four-year member of the Men’s Basketball program.

Will has served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for the last 16 years. He oversees the financial operations of the Department and the preparation of the Department’s $900 million-dollar budget. Prior to the Department’s CFO, Taylor was a Senior Auditor with the former CPA firm of Vavrinek, Trine, Day and Co., LLP. While there, he traveled throughout California conducting audits of School Districts, Community Colleges, Non-Profits, and Financial Institutions.

His personal accomplishment that he is most proud of is his Family.  He is married to his wife LaTonya and they have a son named Darius.  Will enjoys traveling with his family, playing golf, watching Football and cheering on the Los Angeles Lakers. 


John ChesnutJohn Chesnut, ’88
Distinguished Service in Christian Ministries Award

Dr. John Chesnut graduated from California Baptist College in 1988 with a degree in Behavioral Science. He and his wife, Kelly, served in the pastorate for 13 years in the United States before joining Wycliffe USA in 2001. The Chesnuts spent nine years in the Philippines where John served in a variety of leadership roles with SIL Philippines and SIL International Asia Area, including Director of SIL Philippines.

In 2011, the Chesnuts returned to the United States where John served as Chief Development and Partnerships Officer for Wycliffe USA. John earned a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Denver Seminary, and he began his service as Wycliffe USA President/CEO in 2019.

Dr. Chesnut and his wife have seven children through birth and adoption. They love the tapestry of nations God has woven together in their family. In his spare time, John enjoys the outdoors — whether hiking, teaching his grandkids how to fish on the lake, or going on an early morning walk.


Lisa CollinsworthLisa Collinsworth, ’83
Alumni Philanthropy Award

Lisa is the Education Program Coordinator for Planes of Fame Air Museum, working with outreach programs such as scholarships for history and aviation students and art contests for grade school children. As part of the airshow team, she has worked over 25 airshows at Chino Airport and other locations. She also oversaw the organization and opening of the museum’s Library. Lisa is a lover of history and the stories of brave men and women who have served our country. She has been involved as a volunteer or staff member with the museum since 2003.

Lisa began attending Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in 2013 and currently serves as a High School ministry leader. She also serves on the ministry team for Real Impact – a ministry to preserve and promote a biblical worldview in all spheres of society, culture and public policy. She is looking forward to working on election integrity and local elections for the upcoming midterms.

Lisa attended California Baptist College from 1979 to 1983 and graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Business. She is a proud representative of Simmons Hall 2-C and 3-B!

Lisa is a lover of cows and a supporter of the dairy industry, carrying her family’s legacy as Southern California dairy farmers and advocates for the agriculture industry.

From 2004 to 2009, she worked at CBU in the University Advancement office. It was during that time that her parents, Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth, initiated a legacy of generosity to CBU that continues to this day through Lisa. She has also served on the Alumni Association Board and has been a member of Women of Vision. She is currently a member of the Dean’s Executive Council for the School of Music and College of Nursing.


Frank CiprianFrank Ciprian, ’84
Lancer Lifetime Achievement Award

Frank Ciprian and his beloved wife Anita of 56 years this March, were children of the two families who founded the first Southern Baptist Hispanic Church of California, today called Primera Baptist Church of San Jose. Frank graduated with his Bachelor of Arts from California Baptist College in 1984, and then received his Master of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995.

Since 1976, Frank has tirelessly served and shepherded God's people. He led a Bible study group that ultimately planted Maranatha Baptist Church in Moorehead, Minnesota. He then went on to pastor Primera Iglesia Bautista in Riverside; Templo Bautista in Fresno; and Primera Baptist Church in San Jose.

He has offered up his wisdom, experience, and personal gifting in service as President of the Co-fraternity of Hispanic Baptist Churches; as a Professor of Ethnic Leadership Development; as Hispanic Regional Director of the Central Coast Baptist Association; and on the Executive Board of the California Baptist Convention.

Even now, Frank continues to passionately minister to his community. He shares with two other pastors in a weekly Spanish radio ministry, as well as weekly Bible teaching on Facebook – Tuesdays in English and Fridays in Spanish.

The dedication and pastoral service of Frank Ciprian reflects his dedication to the Gospel, and serves as an inspiration for the Lancer community.


Monique _ HeadshotMonique Garcia, ’19, didn’t realize when she started her military career as a teenager that her path would lead her to Mars one day.

Monique joined the Air National Guard in 2008 and started Basic Military Training (BMT) on her 19th birthday. It is here that she met Hal Byers ’00, a CBU alumni. Hal was the 163d Communications Flight Officer in Charge (OIC); he was later commissioned as an officer after completing his degree from CBU. He became a great mentor to Monique and guided her personally and professionally. His deep faith in her made Monique feel she could accomplish anything. Because of his encouragement, she pursued college courses. As a result, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in 2013 from the University of Phoenix. Monique stayed on as an active member of the California Air National Guard until 2018 and enlisted into the Colorado Air National Guard from 2018 to 2020.

Unfortunately, Hal tragically passed away in 2017. It was a very difficult time for Monique as she cherished not only the mentor Hal was to her but the friend he had become. So when Monique decided to continue her education, she looked to California Baptist University. Hal was an alumnus, and Monique knew he would have been proud to see her pursue her Master of Science in Kinesiology at CBU. She knew that because this school meant something to her personally, her education in the program would be more fulfilling and bring more joy to her life. Monique wasn’t clear on her goals after completing the program, but deep down, she knew this was where she was meant to be. And her faith took her farther than she ever could have imagined.

During her studies, Monique immersed herself in learning the physiological and psychological effects on humans during long spaceflight. She was fascinated with human spaceflight and realized that she needed to be involved in research with the space industry. She learned about NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) program and applied to be a crew member in 2020. HERA uses an analog simulated mission to Mars to better understand the effects of long-duration human spaceflight. After an extensive application process, psychological evaluations and modified flight physicals, Monique was accepted to the mission and participated in HERA in October 2021. She spent 45 days with three other crew members, as brilliant and passionate about human space exploration as she is, in a simulation of a mission to Mars.

Monique _ HERA

Currently, Monique works for The MIT Research and Engineering Corporation (MITRE Corp.) as a human factors engineer. The organization is a federally funded research and development center. It works with many government agencies on solving problems for a safer world. Her primary focus is on developing a user interface for a telescope sensor that will be utilized for NASA’s Deep Space Network. Monique feels she is truly living her purpose and finds great satisfaction in making meaningful contributions to projects that will help further space exploration. Additionally, assisting in developing research in the long-duration human spaceflight regarding human factors and behavioral performance. Her experience with NASA HERA gave her a fresh perspective and will aid in furthering her research for future missions.

The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for her family since her husband was also serving in the Air National Guard. At the same time, they both also worked civilian jobs. Childcare became problematic. With over 12 years of service in the Air National Guard, Monique decided to hang up her uniform in 2020. However, the blessing of the pandemic was that it helped accelerate Monique’s path into space research and development.

Monique lives in Colorado with her husband, Trevor and son, Jameson. She credits her husband for his encouragement and support while she chased her dreams, and she hopes that she has set an example for her son to follow his passions and purpose in life.

Read more about Monique’s NASA HERA mission here!



Rich AustinRich Austin’s, ’19, years-long goal was realized in 2017 when he became Chief of Police for the city of Milton, Georgia. Curiously, Rich’s path to law enforcement started in music. His original life goal was to be a professional musician. He obtained degrees in music to help him on this path. However, police work was fascinating to him, so he started in law enforcement while trying to launch his music career. After some time on the job, he decided law enforcement was his true calling.

Previously, Rich served in various roles for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina Police Department, retiring as Captain of Internal Affairs in 2017. He knew he wanted to pursue an opportunity to become a chief of police but realized the journey needed to include continuing his formal graduate education. He began to seek out doctoral programs in public administration (DPA), and his research led him to California Baptist University. At the time, the program was relatively new. Still, the planning and development of the curriculum stood out to him, and he was especially drawn to the spiritual integration component. He took the leap, and it was evident right away that he had made the right choice in CBU.

While in the program at CBU, the position of Chief of Police for the City of Milton presented itself. Milton, a newer community, having been incorporated in 2006, was about 40,000 residents. With over 100 applicants for the position, Rich knew he would have to stand out. He credits his enrollment in the DPA program at CBU with helping him secure the role, as the selection committee was very impressed with this ongoing doctoral work. Rich finished the DPA program in 2019 while serving as Milton’s chief. He states that the knowledge he gained through the DPA program has been invaluable to his success. Additionally, in 2020 he was appointed as an adjunct instructor and dissertation committee member for the CBU DPA program.

Rich believes he has found his purpose as being a police chief is not just a job for him; it has been a calling. He believes God led him to this role to help improve the quality of life for the citizens he serves. In addition, Rich has a broader influence on his profession due to his leadership role in the Georgia Chief’s Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is currently working on a five-year strategic plan for his department and hopes to see those goals through before retiring. Rich then hopes to focus on academia. In addition to his duties as a CBU adjunct instructor, he also is part of the faculties at Houston Baptist University and Reinhardt University. He looks forward to continuing to help develop the next generation of law enforcement and other public sector leaders.

He continues to stay active in music. For many years, he served as a part-time church choir director and played trombone semi-professionally. He now plays in several groups when time allows. Rich and his wife Ashley live in Georgia with their 11-year old daughter Claire.



Kristin HernandezKristin Hernandez’s journey to finding her purpose began at California Baptist University. She believes her time on campus significantly shaped who she has become both professionally and personally.

While living in Simmons Hall her freshman year, a Resident Assistant took the time to invest in Kristin, discipling her and helping her deepen her faith. As a result, she began to read the Bible regularly and surrounded herself with like-minded friends and mentors. They all cared about and supported each other and built a strong community around their shared values and beliefs. Because of the intentional discipleship she received, Kristin took the opportunity to do the same for others by becoming a resident assistant during her junior and senior years. She also traveled to Rwanda and the Middle East through ISP trips, opening her eyes to God’s heart for the nations and cultures beyond her own. Sharing her faith on these trips and discipling as a resident advisor helped her grow more in her compassion for others, leadership skills, and faith.

A 2011 graduate, Kristin was an English major with a journalism minor. She had always loved communications and writing, but her classes allowed her to grow as a writer and communicator that she never expected. As a senior, she presented a capstone project to the entire English department. It was a 50-page paper on the role of imagination in Katherine Patterson’s children’s books Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. This experience solidified her dream of becoming a published author. Though she never expected God to lead her to write the book, she did.

Sunlight in DecemberToday, Kristin has realized her dream of becoming a published author with her book, Sunlight in December: a Mother’s Story of Finding the Goodness of God in the Storm of Grief. The journey to realizing this dream was not an easy one. 

Kristin and her husband Chris, ’10 I have a 3-year-old son at home and five babies who are now with Jesus. Their firstborn son, Ethan, died shortly after birth in 2015 due to a rare chromosome disorder called Trisomy 9. It was through Ethan’s life and death and Kristin’s struggle with God, she ultimately found His goodness in the middle of suffering through prayer and reading His Word. This experience led Kristin to launch an online ministry and write her book.

The ministry also called “Sunlight in December,” includes her writings, speaking engagements, discipleship, a podcast called Through the Lens. Though most importantly, it has her walking alongside grieving mothers who have experienced infertility, miscarriage or the loss of an infant. 

Kristin has partnered with various organizations and nonprofits. She offers resources to support groups, writes articles for blogs and speaks at retreats and conferences. She also leads support groups and simply offers prayer and a listening ear to those who are grieving.

Kristin hopes that others feel less alone and ultimately find the comfort of Jesus amid their suffering. She feels society often puts pressure on people to grieve quickly. Kristin wants those experiencing loss to know that God weeps with them and gives us space for biblical lament. She hopes to spread the message that our greatest hope is Christ, despite our circumstances. 

Kristin hopes to one day write a second book. In the meantime, she is enjoying these God-given opportunities, loving on her family, connecting with friends over coffee, running, riding roller coasters and taking in those sunny days.



Lucas WehnerIn these precarious times, Lucas Wehner, ’11/’12, has been using his leadership skills to make a difference. Since the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014, Lucas has been one of the few people who have cared for former Afghan local staff in Germany. The group he works with recently rented three safe houses for the 350-plus former workers and their families and have been helping evacuate those family members left behind in Kabul.

Lucas came to California Baptist University in 2007. He had met Dr. Robert K. Jabs and his wife, Rita, while they were in Germany and was impressed with their conversations. Lucas felt like CBU was a very Christ-centered place and wanted to be a part of it. He majored in business administration and political science. As an international student with a heart for evangelism, he got involved in student leadership as an international student assistant. He kept this role through his senior year. He found so much value in the safe setting CBU provided, where the different chapels, classroom prayer and ability to share God’s love were so inclusive and accessible.

Many people touched Lucas’s path that helped fuel its trajectory to where he is today, including many CBU community members. Dr. Jabs, Dr. Gayne Anacker, Bryan Davis, Jonathan Bello and Chris McHornery, to name a few. The Knuppe family holds a special place in Lucas’s heart as they became his U.S. family and helped to sponsor his studies at CBU. Additionally, Lucas shared a special bond with Dr. Ellis, president of CBU. Lucas shared his vision with Dr. Ellis about someday building a place like CBU in Germany. Dr. Ellis spent significant time with Lucas sharing his journey, and he has since become a cherished mentor.

Lucas Municipal Admin Bad Liebenzell

Lucas stayed an additional year at CBU, completed his MBA, and worked as a graduate assistant in International Student Services. He returned to Germany in 2012 and began working for a small but growing Christian university, Internationale Hochschule Liebenzell. He has been a manager of the International Office/Library services. His duties include overseeing licensing and research tools, the study abroad program and international student programming.


In 2019, Lucas became a Municipal Administrator of Bad Liebenzell, a community of 3,600 residents in Germany. He serves the citizens of this community by problem-solving and advancing the town’s goals with his council members.

Lucas with Afghan people
In all of his jobs and commitments, he realizes that it is about serving people by listening to them, comforting them, and having a humble heart and being a shining light of Christ. Lucas believes the answer to changing this world is love and the knowledge that the Kingdom of God has already started in every Christian. The change in the world has already begun within the hearts of those Christians. Lucas works to serve his students and his community by living and leading according to the verse, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

As he works to help in the evacuation process of many Afghan people, Lucas sees firsthand the lesson that we must take responsibility for others in every generation. In these history-making moments, we must see the world through His word and make our impact in the service to others.


Photo of Alumni Juan ArambulTo say that teaching during the pandemic has been challenging would be an understatement. Still, Jessie Bekkedahl, ’02/’04, has made the best out of an impossible situation.  

Jessie, a Kindergarten teacher for the Riverside Unified School District, has been nominated by fellow alum and friend Melissa Duncan-O’Brien, ’02/’04, as an alumni spotlight. Melissa recognized Jessie for her kind and humble spirit and ingenuity in finding a way to engage her students during remote learning. 

During the pandemic, Jessie began making YouTube videos for her students featuring her rescue pup, referred to as Professor Ginger. The interactive videos teach topics ranging from letter sounds and math facts to learning how to properly fit a face mask with Professor Ginger as the star. Jessie’s videos became very popular among her fellow teachers, and her subscriber list grew. Soon local news outlets had picked up the story. Since then, Jessie has been on the TV, the radio and honored by the mayor. Most notably, she was featured in PEOPLE magazine.

Melissa nominated Jessie because she felt Jessie deserved to have her wonderful news shared with all CBU alumni. Melissa states, “this couldn’t have happened to a more gracious human being.”

While at CBU, Jessie was a member of the women’s softball team for three years. She graduated from CBU with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. In 2003, Jessie obtained her teaching credentials from CBU and then in 2004 a Masters of Science in Education, also from CBU. She has been teaching in the Riverside Unified School District for 18 years.


Check out more articles on Jessie’s inspiring work with Professor Ginger: 

Professor Ginger Videos


Spectrum News 1

The Autism Site

Press Enterprise


JUNE 2021

Photo of Alumni Juan ArambulJordan Singer, ’15, had been interested in art for years but didn’t have the opportunity to pursue his passion until he began his journey at CBU. An adventure that led him to be discipled, to deep friendships, to a career he loves and to the love of his life, Jessicah (Chappell)
Singer, ’16. 

Jordan believes God calls us to a vocation. He believes that God strengthened his hands to adorn the message of Christian authors and Pastors. Jordan feels he is but a tool in his Father’s hands, for which he is very thankful to be working as a senior designer at Crossway Publishing in Wheaton, Illinois. He oversees the design aspect of books, including cover designs and material specifications. Jordan was tasked with working on the cover design for the book, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund. He chose an image painted by Thomas Moran as it illustrated the feelings that scripture paints for us. The idea of the black sheep needing to hear the Good News of the Gospel and reassuring works of our Savior. It gave the book a timeless look but was indicative of the outstanding content inside. He used his skills to choose an appropriate typeface to support the illustration’s understated yet strong messaging.


Gentle and Lowly CoverFor his work on this project, Jordan was awarded the Top Shelf Book Cover Award in 2020. This award is given annually to celebrate the year’s best book designs in Christian publishing. The covers are judged by some of the country’s top designers. Winners are chosen based on the conceptual thinking involved in the design process, the quality of the execution of the design and the appropriateness for the market. 


In his downtime, Jordan has many hobbies, including reading and learning more about church history, drawing, painting, cooking with his wife Jessicah and playing with their daughter Adeline Grace, born in 2018.


To view more of Jordan’s work, visit https://dribbble.com/JordanDanielSingerhttps://society6.com/jdsinger479 and https://www.instagram.com/j_d_singer/



April 2021

Photo of Alumni Juan Arambul

Juan Arambul, ’14/’20, began his journey at CBU as a transfer student graduating in 2014 with a degree in communication studies. He then went on to receive a master’s from CBU in leadership and organizational studies in 2020. As a student at CBU, he spent time coaching basketball and track and volunteering at a summer camp as well as working full-time at Sherman Indian High School. These experiences, coupled with his passion for serving others and film production, led him to create and develop leadership initiative activities for a large non-profit based in Los Angeles. He began to serve communities throughout California, bringing a unique and innovative leadership style to youth and professionals alike. 

In 2016, Juan decided to leave his full-time job to pursue his purpose by founding a creative agency, ALUMNEW, LLC. This venture eventually led to the development of a youth-oriented organization called ANEW Project. ANEW Project’s mission is to “inspire and empower individuals through innovative team building and leadership initiative activities while cultivating cohesive communities and helping people reach their highest potential.” At ANEW Project, Juan inspires others to look deep within themselves by using team building and leadership exercises to help them identify their passions and purpose in life. ANEW Project partners with schools and brings positive leadership resources to communities. Creating and building ANEW Project has come with many challenges and none more significant than that of the COVID-19 pandemic. Juan was grateful for his background in video production, which helped to navigate the virtual environment required during the past year. He has been able to continue to connect with large audiences and bring innovative experiences to their clients.

Juan hopes to continue to grow ANEW Project. He truly believes God commissioned him to start this ministry. As he stays faithful and dedicated to pursuing his purpose, God will continue to bless him. Serving others and helping to motivate them to be their best selves is a passion that invigorates Juan and continually challenges him to reach for his highest potential. Juan has found great joy through this journey and gives this advice: always seek wise counsel, a clear vision will focus your decisions, and share your gifts and talents with the world! 

To learn more about ANEW Project, visit anewproject.org


February 2021

Colton Von Pertz

Colton von Pertz, ’15, is a graduate of the CBU College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design. He had a concentration in video and animation and a minor in marketing, which he has turned into a career in journalism. Colton is the Aerial Photojournalist & Reporter with Angel City Air and is stationed with KTLA. He reports on live, breaking news like police pursuits, brush fires, commercial fires, swift water rescues, protests, and more.

Colton’s journey to finding his purpose started at CBU as a commuter student while working for Apple. Dirk Dallas, assistant professor of graphic design, challenged Colton to find new perspectives while telling stories through photography and videography and using drones to do so. This encouragement, coupled with real-world opportunities to learn the industry, helped Colton succeed after graduation. First, taking a job at Amazon doing product photography and now in his current role capturing breaking news from the clouds. He loves the thrill of never knowing what story he will capture next. He has found his passion in a field he loves and everyday lives his purpose communicating truthful and timely news to the communities served by KTLA.

Colton hopes to continue chasing the next story, but also could see himself in a management role one day. When off the clock, Colton volunteers at his church on the production team, enjoys playing with his family’s four dogs, boating, traveling the world, and finding just the right angle to capture the perfect sunset.

To see Colton’s introduction video for KTLA, click here!

January 2021

Tracy WatersMeet Tracy Waters, a 4th-grade teacher at Starlight Elementary in Beaumont, California, and the 2020 Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) Teacher of the Year. Tracy is a 2012 graduate of the CBU Online and Professional Studies, Master of Science in Educational Leadership program. While at CBU, Tracy credits her professors for guiding and mentoring her in becoming a servant leader and learning how to implement a Biblical worldview into teaching and educational leadership

Growing up on a farm gave her a strong foundation of hard work, responsibility, and perseverance. Lessons she passes on to her students and other teachers she mentors. She was nominated for this award because of her “service above self” perspective. She involves her students in service projects like clothing drives, canned food drives, trash clean up, purchasing supplies for students in Africa, and more! She shows her students how they can make an impact on their community and the world. “She sees the possibility and the potential in every single student,” said Todd Oldenburg, parent of a student.

Tracy feels that public education is a sort of mission field in itself and the Lord has placed her in her role as an educator to be able to bring Jesus to those that need Him. She is living her purpose by encouraging, loving, inspiring, and teaching each child that crosses her path and helping them find and share their gifts—their purpose—with the world. Tracy says, “It is both a joy and an honor that He has chosen me to serve Him in this way.”

Tracy teaching in class

This past year, like many teachers, Tracy has had to look to technology more than ever before to navigate teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has tried to build relationships and engagement with her students and their families through phone calls, snail mail surprises, home visits to drop off and pick up materials, and making sure to have fun while online with dance parties and games. She has taken on the task to virtually build upon her teaching philosophy that through creativity, variety, and choice students are able to find their true potential and that every student plays a unique part in the orchestra of the learning experience.

Tracy and her husband Pat have two children. Owen is 13 and an eighth-grader and Jenna, 19, is a Liberal Studies major at CBU. They are heavily involved in their church, leading Home Fellowship for the past 15 years. They also enjoy camping, the beach, and any excuse to hang out with family and friends.

Learn more about Tracy and her award in this video from RCOE.


November 2020

Micah Emerine, ’18, and his wife Rebecca Emerine, ’18, own a wedding videography business. Micah and Rebecca credit their time at CBU and in the College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design for not only building their academic and spiritual foundation but giving them both hands-on experience. As student-workers and studying in Los Angeles in their final semester, they learned many of the skills they use today in their business.

Micah and Rebecca actually began their business when they were students at CBU, which allowed them to start building their portfolio very early on. They have filmed over 80 weddings, many of which are CBU students and alumni! Micah has worked with many different businesses, local musicians, and the Riverside International Film Festival in his freelance endeavors, using his skills in videography, aerial cinematography, editing, and design. He is also very dedicated to his work in the drone industry. He has been finessing his aerial coverage and piloting skills. But for Rebecca and Micah, their main focus and passion are weddings.

Currently, Micah works for the Inland Vineyard Church in Corona as the Media Coordinator. He handles everything from graphic design and animation to website design, photography, and videography. Rebecca works full-time for California Baptist University as an Admissions Communication Specialist.

Micah and Rebecca believe they live their purpose by using creativity to be a light in the world and further the Kingdom of God through their work. They hope to continue to grow their business to a point where they can both be full-time and eventually travel the world, capturing the beauty God has created.

To see Micah and Rebecca’s work, visit micahemerine.com and micahrebeccafilms.com or visit their Instagram at @micahrebeccafilms.


September 2020

Michelle Moore, ’14/’16, is in her first year working at Harvest Christian School as a physical education teacher and the athletic director. She attended CBU’s online and professional studies program later in life as a non-traditional student and is the first in her family to receive a college degree.

Michelle Moore

Michelle’s path to CBU started with a 100lb weight loss; she felt that if she could make choices that helped her reach her fitness and health goals, Michelle knew she could help motivate others to do the same. She chose to major in kinesiology and physical education. During her time in the program, her passion grew. She decided to continue her studies in the graduate program at CBU, eventually earning her M.S. in kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science and cardiac rehab. She then went on to earn another Master of Education degree and her single-subject teaching credential from Alliant International University.

Michelle credits CBU professor Monica O’Rourke for guiding her with faith and expertise to help fuel her already passionate love of physical education. Because of this support, Michelle was able to participate in conferences and share her testimony and journey to a healthier life. She was also able to co-teach several physical education clinics. She credits CBU with being able to help her integrate a biblical foundation into her educational endeavors, helping her experience become more of a personal journey.

Michelle feels that God has led her to serve by finding her purpose in educating youth on the importance of physical activity and how it leads to a healthier lifestyle. She can combine her passion for fitness with her love of the Lord, all while making it fun!

Michelle feels blessed to be a physical education educator and an Athletic Director. These roles are not only her dream jobs, but they put her in a position to help her students find their purpose just as she has been able to find hers.

Michelle is a mother of five, Andrew (30), Kaylee (26), Faith (20), Blake (15), and Austin (9). Though attending school was a challenge, she had the encouragement of her husband, Jerald, and the rest of the family. She has set an example for her children, of which she is proud. First, the example of it never being too late to take an educational journey and then the joy in living your purpose every day.

August 2020

Methode Maniraguha, ’13 is the founder and CEO of Current Renewable Engineering, Inc. (CRE), a company he started in 2018. CRE provides engineering services for the solar industry. Their expertise is in the engineering of solar PV systems, battery storage systems, and electric vehicles charging infrastructure. The team at CRE includes senior licensed professional engineers and project engineers, enabling them to offer solar industry-leading turnaround times and reliable engineering services nationally. Currently, they are licensed in over 30 states with the possibility of expanding their reach even further. They are working to continue creating tools, products, and services that will help achieve a sustainable energy future.

Methode in office

Methode came to CBU in 2009 under the Government of Rwanda and the CBU Presidential Scholarship program. He entered the engineering program studying electrical and computer engineering. CBU not only provided Methode with the foundation for his engineering education but was also a place where he learned the U.S. culture, made lifelong friendships, and grew in his faith as a follower of Jesus Christ. Methode states, “I am grateful for the government of Rwanda, CBU and their partners and donors that created an opportunity for a kid from Rwanda to get an education in the United States.”

Methode was recently awarded the 2020 Emerging Entrepreneur Award from the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce for his work with CRE. Methode believes his purpose is to create, launch, and successfully build stable, sustainable, and customer-centric businesses that address real-life problems and empower people through employment. He and his wife also have hopes of utilizing their resources to support the education of disadvantaged girls through Christian missions or however God leads them.

To read more about Methode, visit this article recently published by pv magazineFrom Rwanda to Riverside.

June 2020

LSA Logo

Sarah Beene, ’15, Zachary Norton, ’16, and Kaytlyn (Contreras) Blank, ’17, all met while graduate students in the Athletic Training program at CBU. For Zach and Sarah, the long hours spent doing their clinical rotation led to a quick friendship that evolved into a relationship, and they are now engaged to be married in 2021. Kaytlyn met Zach while they were both in the program at CBU. 

Kaytlyn then ended up doing her clinical rotation with Sarah, who was working full-time as a certified athletic trainer for the University of Redlands. They worked together for the 2016-17 basketball season and formed a close friendship.


During the summer of 2016, while attending a conference, Sarah and Zach met other CBU Athletic Training program alumni. They realized how many alumni there were and that they had no idea who they were. They had all attended the same program at the same school and hadn’t crossed paths until now. It was then that the idea for the Lance and Shield Association (LSA) formed. They took their idea to Kaytlyn, and with the help of Chase Paulson, ’11, developed the model of the association that is still used today. Zach, Kaytlyn, and Sarah then incorporated the Lance and Shield Association (LSA) as a non-profit organization. 

Study session

The goal of LSA is to bring alumni of the CBU Athletic Training program together and give back to the alumni and current students. LSA provides an annual professional grant to alumni for continuing education, which is required of all certified athletic trainers. The grant intends to help offset registration costs, travel, or any other expenses that accompany these conferences. The LSA also offers two scholarships a year to current students of the program in hopes of fostering involvement in the profession and promoting networking. They also provide different programming to help develop skills students are learning in class and clinic. These skills may be tangible, hands-on skills such as injury evaluation or emergency response, or soft skills, like advocating for themselves, that will help them professionally. In addition, they host study sessions every spring for students preparing for their Board of Certification exam. The session focuses on critical thinking and gaining confidence in their knowledge.


But it’s not all work; every year, the LSA tries to plan at least one social event at the annual conference. This event encourages networking, mentorship, and information sharing between alumni, students, and friends of the program. Last year, during the second annual LSA Social, over 50 CBU alumni and current students from classes 2009-2020 attended.

In addition to working with the CBU Alumni & Parent Relations office as an affinity group, countless individuals have reached out to find ways to give back and get involved. The LSA credits this community with its success as an organization. Alumni who have helped the LSA with the study sessions, social media, and the annual social include Todd Conger, ’11, Ashley Musick, ’12, Megan Williams, ’15, Lauren Hoyt, ’16, Tyler Hoyt, ’16, Cami McCallum, ’17, and Becca Brown, ’20.

The LSA hopes to continue inspiring others to get involved and to begin more significant fundraising efforts. They aim to eventually be able to provide more continuous, long-term financial support to alumni and current students. The LSA is thankful for the support they have received. Those who have chosen to give back to the association each year are the inspiration to continue its growth and progress.

To find out more about the Lance and Shield Association, visit lanceandshield.org.

May 2020

Dakota McMahand, ’15, established Budding Artists, an arts education nonprofit, with her friend, Sarah Tanberg in 2018. Dakota is a higher education professional, classical pianist, and first-generation college graduate. Dakota graduated from CBU with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Public Administration. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education Administration from the University of South Dakota.

Budding Artists provides free process-based art experiences to preschool-aged children who live in underserved communities within Los Angeles county. The organization helps prepare children for participation in STEAM disciplines, by focusing on arts education to peak children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Through the various program offered by Budding Artists, children learn how to think critically and problem-solve while using creativity—making them lifelong learners and engineers of creativity. Several programs support their mission, including the Exploration Program. The Exploration Program is a tuition-free, one-hour visual arts workshop that is held once a week for eight weeks during the summer. The program helps children make art to express and create meaning of their thoughts and ideas, which in turn helps them gain an understanding of a variety of subjects. Budding Artists also offers an Adult Process-Based Art Workshop, Adopt-a-Book Literacy Program, and the Gift of Play Project.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Budding Artists pivoted their work to “bring creativity home” with the launch of process-based art kits for families with young children as art not only supports the development of necessary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills, it also brings healing during uncertain times. They have given away over 100 free art kits in the South East Los Angeles area. Funding from The Pollination Project, The Awesome Foundation, and Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (AD-63) have supported the project.

When Dakota is not volunteering her time with Budding Artists, you can find her working full-time in the Office of Academic Affairs at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, supporting the next generation of physicians.

To learn more about Budding Artists and how Dakota is not only living her purpose but is living for others, visit  https://www.budding-artists.org

Contact University Advancement

Email: givetocbu@calbaptist.edu
Phone: (951) 343-4226
Text to Give: Text CBUFUND to 41444

Alumni and Parent Relations

Email: alumni@calbaptist.edu
Email: parents@calbaptist.edu
Email: events@calbaptist.edu
Phone: (951) 343-4439

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