Panel selects speaker for fall graduation ceremony

Tyler Johnson, senior business administration management major, has been selected as the undergraduate student commencement
speaker for fall 2015.

A panel held auditions at the Wallace Theatre Oct. 27 and 28 to select the student delivering the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony Dec. 17 at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.

With commencement fast approaching, Student Services and the Office of Academic Services at California Baptist University have been working to select a student to represent the graduating class of fall 2015. Every year, several students in the graduating class go through the rigorous process of selection for a commencement speaker.

After turning in an application, students are required to perform their speeches in front of a panel comprised of faculty from both Student Services and Academic Services. The panel this semester featured Lynette Risner, administrative assistant of Academic Affairs, Brett Vowell, director of Chapel and Compassion Ministries, Anthony Lammons, dean of students, and Kris Smith, administrative assistant of Student Services.

“The decision was difficult given the quality of candidates we had,” Smith said. “However, Tyler’s personal story, life experiences and spiritual journey, coupled with his ability to effectively communicate, tipped the scales.”

The prospective speakers were given 15 minutes to present the reason why they wanted to be the speaker and to rehearse. The panel considers criteria for the selection of a commencement speaker.

Two of the most important criteria are the speaker’s ability to present a personal story that is not only relatable but will also leave an impression on the audience.

Smith was on the panel last year and is responsible for releasing the names of the chosen speakers.

“It is such a privilege to be on the audition committee and hear the inspirational stories and journey that each of the speakers have about getting to and then graduating from CBU,” Smith said.

Johnson is an avid volunteer in an organization known as Bikers Against Child Abuse.

“We are an international organization of bikers that are dedicated to empowering abused children,” Johnson said. “We empower these wounded heroes by providing them with an established, united organization. We use our tough biker image to empower these children to no longer fear the world in which they live.”

Johnson said his  time  serving in the military  motivated him to be dedicated  to the organization and its purpose gave him the strength of mind to be himself.

“When I auditioned for my commencement address, everyone ahead of me was dressed to the nines,” he said. “I decided to come as I am and I wore my BACA (cut leather) vest. That is because I am proud to serve the children of BACA and it showed my true colors. I am a servant of God and, as commanded by God, I was ordered to protect the widow, the orphan and the alien.”

Johnson chose the topic of  his speech to be on the school’s motto and how it is prevalent in his life during his audition speech in front of the panel.

“I talk about my past and my involvement in the military,” Johnson said. “I refer to my unusual appearance at CBU as a biker. I define that by living my individual purpose, I will choose to lead by being a servant. It is what God commanded us to do in the book of John, to ‘Wash the feet of our followers.’ The true measure of a great leader is defined by how they serve others.”

About Jennifer Schmidt

Asst. News Editor

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