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CSU’s 90th Commencement

Clarks Summit University celebrated Commencement for its 90th graduating class on April 30 at 10 a.m. in the Recreation Center on our Clarks Summit campus. Commencement is a favorite time of year on the CSU campus when we can celebrate the accomplishments of our many graduates together and encourage them as they go out to serve Christ in their ministries and careers.

More than 182 graduates included students who have earned undergraduate degrees and master’s degrees from CSU as well as 33 students who have earned master’s or doctoral degrees from CSU’s Baptist Bible Seminary.

While many graduates reside in Pennsylvania and the Northeast Region of the US, international graduates included students from Costa Rica, Canada, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, China, Spain, Tanzania, Bermuda and India.

Honorary Doctorate & Commencement Speaker

University president Jim Lytle, D.Min., introduced Ken Rudolph, M.Min., as commencement speaker and presented him with an Honorary Doctorate.

Rudolph has spent nearly his entire lifetime dedicated to pointing others toward Christ with a contagious passion. The much-loved international speaker is known for his expressive personality and powerful message. As a student at Clarks Summit University, he was involved in music, basketball and church planting before graduating in 1975 and becoming a pastor. He served on CSU’s admissions team, and thousands of young people were influenced by his captivating storytelling as a speaker and director of CSU’s Teen Leadership Conference.

On his Commencement address, Rudolph brought the same passion, humor and enthusiasm that audiences have come to know and love.

He opened with the verses: “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city,” Proverbs 16:32, ESV.

With personal stories and Scriptural references, he encouraged the audience, “You can rule your spirit; choose peace.”

He challenged listeners: instead of choosing anger, a crushed spirit and fear, choose to have peace, to rejoice and to have courage because of our God.

“Don’t just take all the theology you’ve got and put it up in the theoretical,” Rudolph told the graduates. “Live it!”

He concluded: “I pray that the one thing you might understand from this lesson this morning—rule your spirit.”

This alumni and national speaker was described by Dr. Lytle as serving with both zeal and warmth. “He wears his love for Jesus Christ on his sleeve,” said Dr. Lytle.

Upon accepting his doctorate, Rudolph said through tears, “I was surrounded by great people.” He credited his dad, who recently passed away; his mom, who “gave me the fear of God;” and his wife, Jinner.

Rudolph earned his Master of Ministry from Baptist Bible Seminary. He served with Lake Ann Camp in Michigan and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism in Europe. Now, in his retirement, he continues his speaking ministry. Rudolph is one of only 18 people who have received an honorary doctorate from CSU since the school’s founding in 1932.

Student Speakers

Members of the graduating class of 2022 also addressed the audience. Both undergraduate speakers are graduates of the Secondary Education program. Jasmine Kiswani is a Secondary Education—Mathematics major from Westfield, New York, graduating with High Honor.

Kiswani appreciates the small, tight-knit community at CSU, saying:

“The best part of my Clarks Summit University experience is that attending a small school provides opportunity for a community that pushes each member to do their best. Almost every person I interact with on this campus expects me to do the best with the ability God has given me. From my professors and coaches, dorm mom, trainer, to my teammates, classmates, and dorm mates, the goal really is Christ-centered career readiness. I have the opportunity to not only be influenced by every member of this community, but to do the influencing. The discipleship and mentorship that happens on this campus has been crucial to my learning experience and has prepped me for every aspect of life I have coming up…”

Samuel Muckle is a Secondary Education—English major from Guadalajara, Spain, graduating with Highest Honor. He said:

“Thank you to everyone who has invested in me and my education. Clarks Summit University has taught me the value of working towards a goal as a group of believers. Nothing that I have done here has been on my own strength alone. My friends, mentors and professors have shown me how important it is to push one another towards a goal. I still have so much to learn, but the lessons I have learned here and the tools I have been given will help to achieve my future goals as I go into the world to be a light for Christ. All glory be to God for everything that has happened here and all that will continue to happen.”

David Robinson, from Baltimore, Maryland, was chosen to represent the master’s degree programs. In two years, he completed his master’s program online, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. Robinson says the program prepared him well to step into his new role as Head of School. He stated:

“As I stand here today, I cannot help but be humbled by God’s providence and provision…I clearly see the fingerprints of God. This milestone has prepared me well as I begin to transition to a head of school role. This would not have been possible if God had not been orchestrating my steps as well as providing me with the support…With that being said, I want to encourage you all with the following message: It’s possible! It’s possible. Whatever God has called you to is possible! Be diligent. Trust Him. And He’ll provide you with everything you need.”

Chenxi Xu earned both her bachelor’s degree and Master of Science in Counseling simultaneously through CSU’s Accelerated Counseling program. From Qingdao China, she graduated with highest honor and Summa Cum Laude, respectively. She said:

“At CSU, through various classes and numerous professors, I learned that joy and grief are not two contradicting emotions because we do not grieve without hope. At CSU, I learned to grieve about moving from China to CSU, be joyful to study in this amazing community, and hope that the Lord prepares me in every way He can.”

Timothy Huber, from Groveland, Illinois, represented Baptist Bible Seminary master’s degree graduates. He pursued his degree to be equipped for pastoral ministry, and during his pursuit, he moved 800 miles with his family and started treatment after being diagnosed with cancer. He said:

“Here at Clarks Summit University and Baptist Bible Seminary I had the opportunity to spend hours studying the Word of God. I had classes that taught me how to deepen my understanding of theology and taught me biblical Hebrew and Greek. And I had professors that cared about me; they prayed for me. They encouraged me to work hard at academics, but then they encouraged me to work even harder at walking with the Lord.”

Brian Shealy, from Ormond Beach, Florida, graduated Cum Laude with his Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration in New Testament. His dissertation project is titled, “The Hermenetical Methodology of N.T. Wright: A Critical Evaluation.” He said:

“I particularly appreciated the mutual sharpening with fellow students provided in both online and in person interaction. Through these I have met many ministry partners for life. One example is a fellow grad who is a missionary to Ukraine. During this war, our church has been able to partner with him in Poland ministering mercy and the gospel to refugees…I also want to thank the Lord for the BBS professors. They are first-rate scholars and godly men. Their examples and influence in my life have truly shaped the way that I will in turn train pastors where I serve.”

Ceremony Highlights

Matthew Calderón, M.S.Ed., chair of CSU’s Board of Trustees, gave the welcome and invocation. Calderón is the school superintendent for Pembrooke Central School District in Corfu, New York; he’s served as board chair since 2018.

Adam Schwamb, M.M., directed the 29-person Concert Choir in performing two songs: They sang “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” arranged by Patti Drennan and “Rejoice, the Lord is King” by John Darwell, arranged by Dan Forrest. Jenny Johnson, M.S., accompanied on piano.

Assistant Professor Faye Moore, M.S.C., read Scripture from Psalm 145, culminating with verse 21: “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.”

Vice President for Academics, William Higley, Ph.D., presented candidates. CSU’s 10th President, James Lytle, D.Min., conferred degrees.

The ceremony concluded with prayer by Baptist Bible Seminary Professor Ken Gardoski, Ph.D., before the congregational singing of the College Hymn, “Holding Fast the Faithful Word” by W.S. Miller.

Ceremonies remain available via Facebook, YouTube and to watch on CSU’s website.

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