Cornerstone University Celebrates 81st Commencement Exercises
Mol Arena was at capacity only on May 6, as the 81st Commencement of Cornerstone University’s graduating class of 2023 received their degrees.
Friends and families gathered in the arena to recognize and celebrate the academic and spiritual achievements of this year’s graduating class. This year, 380 Cornerstone students received degrees through traditional undergraduate studies, Cornerstone Theological Seminary and Cornerstone University Online (formerly Professional & Graduate Studies) programs, a tribute to their hard work and the faculty who helped them achieve their degrees.
In his invocation, Cornerstone University president Gerson Moreno-Riaño, Ph.D., welcomed the class of 2023 and prayed God’s blessing on the celebration. He thanked the supportive family and friends, the board, faculty and staff for a successful year of helping students grow, to flourish in Jesus Christ, and for helping them become bold, influential, Christ-centered achievers.
“Today marks a new chapter in the turning of a page as you cross this stage and receive your degree,” Moreno-Riaño said. “After years of study, research, barrels of coffee and the constant pursuit of Jesus, we send you into the world with the wisdom you have gained, the faith you have built and the calling that you have on your heart, ordained by God.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez brought spiritual fire to Cornerstone University’s Mol Arena for the 81st Commencement speech.
Addressing the 2023 graduates, friends and families in a packed arena, his theme was “Light Versus the Darkness.” With authority and fervor, he challenged the assembly with all the opportunities that await them—not just as graduates, but as bold, influential Christians carrying the light of Christ into the darkness of this world.
“Because every single time light stands next to darkness,” Rodriguez said, “light always wins.”
As a panelist for the fall 2022 Wisdom Conversations, Rodriguez is no stranger to Cornerstone University. He is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was advisor to three US presidents and the Congress, is a best-selling author, is a Dove Award-winning producer and is senior pastor of New Season Church in Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif.
Rodriguez’s enthusiasm was contagious as he shared from the Scripture to encourage the graduating class: “You are not defined by what’s around you, you are defined by God’s spirit inside you … You are not defined by what you do for God, you are defined by what God already did for you.”
“There is an attempt right now in America and around the world,” Rodriguez warned, “to tell us who we are.” His response and Biblical admonition was, “We are the light of the world. We are the city on a hill. We are people of the Word. We are the salt and light. We are prophetic and not pathetic.”
Mol Arena erupted with joy and praise to God over and again as Rodriguez ended just as he started. “Every time light stands next to darkness,” he said, “light always wins,” exhorting the graduates to boldly go and be the light of the world.
Cornerstone University conferred associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees with special recognitions for this year’s undergraduate valedictorians, Jared LaVoie and Sydnie Zeeryp, who received commemorative plaques for their outstanding academic achievement. Also recognized was Jerry DeBoer with the Student Achievement award, Dean’s Award winner, Greg Salmon, and Dr. Michael Pasquale became the new Faculty Hall of Honors inductee.
After every name was read, hands shook and diplomas awarded, the tassels were turned,“The Benediction” rang out with hands raised high, giving all honor and glory to God, followed by a shower of confetti.
Congratulations class of 2023! Be bold and go forth, influencing the world for Jesus Christ!