March 13, 2020

After Volcano Woes, AIIAS Commemorates Its 104th Graduation Ceremony

Bruce Sumendap, Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, and Adventist Review

One hundred fifty-one students of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) celebrated the conferring of their degrees on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at the Siew Huy Auditorium on the campus in Silang, Cavite, Philippines. Ninety-six graduates were from the Seminary, and 55 from the Graduate School, representing 37 countries and 13 world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The graduation exercises took place less than two months after the sudden eruption of a nearby volcano threatened to close all activities on campus.

Graduation weekend began on Friday, March 6, with consecration speakers Alina and Cristian Dumitrescu. The couple shared stories about courageous missionaries from many parts of the world who overcame their difficulties by allowing God to adjust their vision.

The Dumitrescus are both faculty members at AIIAS and were chosen by the graduating class to be their sponsors.

“The world needs revolutionaries,” Cristian Dumitrescu said. “You are called to change the world by changing people. Follow in the master’s footsteps, as you build hospitals, open churches, and organize schools.”

Following the address, the class divided themselves into groups for a skit. Taking turns, they expressed their commitment to serve God, followed by a visualization of laying their respective professions at the foot of the cross.

On Saturday (Sabbath), March 7, Francisco Gayoba, president of Adventist University of the Philippines, presented the baccalaureate address. He talked about the biblical meaning of “purpose,” “excellence,” and “service.”

“Christian service is to be at the time and place where God wanted us to be,” Gayoba said. “Excellence is to serve under the direction of the Master. The Master decides where to place us. His work of salvation of the world has us in it.”

Gayoba is an alumnus and former faculty member of AIIAS.

On the same day, several programs were held, including a Tribute to Parents, Spouses, and Sponsors. Later in the evening, AIIAS president Ginger Ketting-Weller hosted a presidential reception for the graduates, parents, and spouses. Faculty members were introduced to the attendees.

During the Commencement on Sunday, Ketting-Weller highlighted how the graduates of AIIAS for the past 34 years and those graduates from the predecessor seminary in Baesa have joined an ‘impressive list of notable people’ in the Seventh-day Adventist communities around the world.

“I am certain that many of this year’s graduates will also fulfill the mission by taking up leadership in service for God in their part of the world,” Ketting-Weller said.

Commencement speaker Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, the director of education for the Seventh-day Adventist world church and an alumna of AIIAS, talked about being courageous in the strength of God.

In her address, Beardsley-Hardy recalled the days when she was studying on the previous campus of the Seminary inside the then Philippine Union College in Baesa, Manila, where she rediscovered her calling to serve a perfect, strong, and eternally loving God.

“I challenge you to commit what you have to God. If you do, you will see how He multiplies it to meet the needs of others, and your needs will be satisfied as well,” Beardsley-Hardy said to the graduates. “When God multiplies, it won't be barely enough — it will be more than enough.”

AIIAS has offered programs of study in different modalities. This year, 76 graduated from the central campus program, 68 from the distance learning center, and seven from AIIAS Online.

AIIAS is a graduate-level institution operated by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.  It offers master’s and doctoral degrees in the areas of business, education, public health, and religion.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.