Judson's Spring Commencement | Judson University Christian College
Judson University Celebrates 245 Graduates During Spring Commencement 2019

Keynote Fujimura2 (ELGIN, IL – May 4, 2019) Judson University celebrated 245 graduates during the 81st commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 4. Artist, writer and speaker Makoto Fujimura gave the keynote address to graduates in ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Lindner Fitness Center (1151 N. State St., Elgin).

Fujimura was recently appointed Director of Culture Care Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary's Brehm Center. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, Fujimura served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts.

In his address, Fujimura described several images and experiences: watching the spire at Notre Dame burn and topple just days ago; recounting the morning of September 11 when the Trade Towers came down just three blocks from his home; and visiting Columbine High School on April 20 to mark 20 years since the school shooting in 1999.

“It matters what we do with these remembered images,” said Fujimura, noting that we can create or we can harm with our imagination. “We can use it to forgive or we can become bitter. Our imagination can rewire how we view ourselves and our past.”

Fujimura was invited to speak at Columbine about his memories of September 11 and his experiences of brokenness.

“I offered a 17th century Kintsugi bowl to the students of Columbine and their families,” remembering also the other schools and communities, he said. A Kintsugi, Fujimura explained, is an ancient tea bowl used in the tea ceremony that “if broken, would be saved sometimes for generations, to be repaired by artisans using a lavish technique with gold… A bowl mended with gold is actually more valuable than before it broke,” he explained. 

Fujimura believes that this generation is a “Kintsugi Generation.” This generation, he told graduates, has been traumatized from living in a time of school shootings, terrorist threats, political and social discord, and scandals. He noted that since Columbine, there have been many shootings and that these events together have created an “in-between” time.

He reminded graduates that John 10 tells of Jesus’ promise to give abundance. “When we create, rebuild from the devasting fire, especially when we are afraid, then God chooses these moments to reveal his presence in our lives. God did not promise an easy life but promised us an abundant life.”

Fujimura encouraged graduates to stay on the path of creating life and abundance, saying that artists know that creation gives us the opportunity to discard fear when building something new.

He recalled that while at Columbine, he expected fear, but found tears and forgiveness from the voices that spoke. “These children of Columbine have risen above their fear and pain. This is a new era for them. A river of gold flowing out from the fissures. “

Fujimura believes that this generation can mend the brokenness and create something new as Isaiah 58 calls us to rebuild, repair and heal for future generations.

During the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony, 131 students graduated, including 30 from the Traditional Undergraduate program, 16 from the Master of Architecture program and 85 from the Division of Professional Studies programs: Masters (MBA, Master of Arts in Human Services Administration, Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling) and Adult Undergraduate (evening adult students) Bachelor of Arts and Associate of Arts. This service marked the first graduating class for Judson’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Judson also recognized Richard King Brown, a life insurance executive and founder of CIC Companies, with an honorary doctorate degree.

At the 2 p.m. commencement program, 106 students graduated from the Traditional Undergraduate program and nine from the Doctor of Education in Literacy (DLIT) program. During this service, Judson graduated its first cohort of eight students with a Certificate of Completion from the RISE (Road To Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment) Program for students with intellectual disabilities.

Distinguished academic awards for excellence and leadership were presented. Students who received acknowledgments include:

Chris Britton of Rockford, Ill., is a Master of Leadership in Ministry (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. He received the Adoniram Judson Leadership in Ministry Award, which is presented to the Master of Leadership in Ministry graduating senior who demonstrates excellence in coursework, outstanding character, leadership within the cohort, and the potential for significant leadership of God’s people locally and globally. Britton has served on the staff of Youth Hope, a Christian ministry serving low-income and troubled youth and families in the Illinois Quad Cities. He has served as director of one of the eprogram’s youth centers and developed a M.A.D. Skills Program. Recently, he was a speaker for the TedX conference in Davenport talking about hip hop in the classroom.

Aria ChildersAria Gabrielle Childers of Rockford, Ill., is a Human Services (Division of Professional Studies) graduate. She received the Student Service Award-Adult Professional Studies Undergraduate, which is presented to the graduating senior who best exemplifies sincerity and dedication to Christ, excellence in academic achievement, and dedication to the goals and mission of Judson University. She is part of the worship team and works with youth at Heartland Community Church of Rockford. She raised funds for World Relief while running the Chicago Marathon twice.

Taylor Hiland of New Palestine, Ill., is a Biochemistry major (Liberal Arts, Sciences and Education) graduate. He was awarded the Student Service Award-Traditional Undergraduate, which is presented to the graduating senior who best exemplifies sincerity and dedication to Christ, excellence in academic achievement, and dedication to the goals and mission of Judson University. During his time at Judson, he was a Deans List Honoree and an integral part of the Men’s Basketball program, serving as co-captain during his senior year. He also was recognized as part of the Chicago Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and the National Christian College Athletic Association Scholar Athlete for two years. He has also been part of the Judson Student Organization and was named a World Leaders Forum Scholar.

Presidential Scholar 2019Anna Wendling of Kaneville, Ill., is an Early Childhood Education with endorsements in Special Education and English as a Second Language (Liberal Arts, Sciences and Education) graduate. She was honored with the President’s Scholar Award-Traditional Undergraduate, which is Judson’s highest recognition for scholarship and is awarded to the graduating senior in the Traditional Program who has demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program. During her time at Judson, Wendling has been an officer in Kappa Delta Pi, an academic society, and held various volunteer positions in the community. She has served as a youth leader at Kaneville United Methodist Church, led a summer camp for elementary students and tutored students.

Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World