IBS Celebrates Commencement 2022 In Person!

Gesshin Claire Greenwood  |  May 24, 2022

Joy and relief at being able to celebrate in person was a theme resonating throughout the Institute of Buddhist Studies’ commencement, held at the Jodo Shinshu Center on May 20th, 2022 in Berkeley, CA. Joy, but also grief and sadness about the last few years of lost experience. Participants and speakers alike expressed emotion at being able to sit and chant together, and celebrate the successes of graduating students. Participants not able to attend in person joined via Zoom, with a self-rotating camera making for seamless remote learning experience. 


Rev. Candice Shibata, who delivered the keynote address, noted that she almost cried at the unfamiliar but longed-for feeling of chanting together with others in the Kodo. “These past two years of our lives have been unprecedented and have posed challenges for faculty, staff and of course, the students,” she said. “However, the commitment of IBS faculty and staff to provide an engaging education while still providing a supportive community to the students never faulted.”

Commencement ceremony began with a processional, followed by opening remarks by IBS president Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto, and then chanting of the juseige. Board of Trustees member Dr. Leroy Morishita delivered opening remarks, followed by a brief statement by Dean Scott Mitchell. 


Rev. Candice Shibata delivered a moving commencement address entitled “The Ever-changing Story of Our Karmic Paths,” which told the story of how her mother’s tragic death influenced her decision to pursue ministry. “I envisioned my life a certain way growing up, which included my mother in every aspect of my life,” she said. “However, her karmic conditions proved me wrong, changing my path in life forever. What was a tragedy in loss in my twenties turned out to give me life and love. A life of the Buddha’s and Shinran Shonin’s teachings, urging me to become aware of my ever-changing life and showing my gratitude for this one and only life. It has also given me love. Love and appreciation for my mother in a way in which I was not able to show her while she was still living.”


Dean Mitchell presided over the conferral of graduate degree and certificates. 


Ellen Hamada Crane

Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies


John Aaron Mullins

Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies


Cynthia Keiko Yasaki

Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies 


Sakurako Iwagami

Master of Arts, Graduate Theological Union


Quang Dai Le

Master of Arts, Graduate Theological Union


Certificate in Shin Buddhist Studies:

Leo Joslin

Charlene Kihara

Barbara MacCarl

Vonn R. Magnin

Geoffrey Andrew Russel


Graduates from 2021 and 2020 were also invited to attend and receive diplomas. 


Following the ceremony, a reception was served in the lobby for the first time in two years, guests mingled and celebrated. Dean Scott Mitchell commented, “It was great to celebrate in person and I look forward to joining together as a community in the future. We’ve weathered a lot during COVID, but there’s no one more suited to attend to the challenges of our times than IBS students.”