The May 2 graduation of Soldotna's Alaska Christian College Class of 2004 was an emotional event with tears of joy running down their faces, students and staff alike shared testimonies of what the last year was like for them.
"I think this school creates a great base in a person," said Marty Towarak, during the student faith testimonies portion of the commencement.
He added, "I saw in my village and other villages that it was getting bad. I wanted to get a degree and go back and make a change."
Towarak, originally from Unalakleet, was one of 13 graduates, while two other students received certificates of biblical and general studies, and six other students graduated from ACC's "Encore" program.
The Bible college, affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, targets primarily Native students from throughout Bush Alaska.
Encore continuing program student Beatrice Katongan also gave a heartfelt speech about what it was like to come to ACC from a non-Christian home during her student faith testimonial.
The ACC choir sings "We Want to See Jesus Lifted High" during the 2004 commencement.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
"I didn't grow up in God, but I had hard times growing up. I felt very alone," she said.
Katongan went on to explain how different her life is now, though, after attending ACC.
"God has grown me, through good people; he's taught me to believe I'm worth something," she said.
Lt. Governor Loren Leman was on hand to deliver the commencement address to the students, but like many family members and faculty, he too was moved by what the students shared.
"You can tell there's a lot more than teaching going on here," he said. "You can tell there's a lot of love too."
Leman went on to encourage the students to try to reach their full potential through God.
And, he said, "Hopefully, we have a future lieutenant governor here in this graduating class."
Alaska Christian College
Class of 2004
Biblical and General Studies
Elmer Howarth Jr.
Abraham Anasogak Jr.
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