2008 Alumnus of the Year
The 10,000 Foot View of Life
1984 Alumnus Dr. Jon DePriest is San Diego Christian College’s 2008 Alumnus of the Year. Jon joined SDCC as a staff member in 1989 and now chairs the History and Social Sciences department from which he earned his degree 24 years ago. As a faculty member, Jon teaches American History and has served in several positions including academic and operations administration and as women’s volleyball coach. Jon knew early in his life that God called him to teach. In fact, before he had a college degree, he was teaching at an Accelerated Christian Education school founded by Grace Brethren Church in Kearney Mesa. He loved the job and was motivated to complete his college education with the dream of becoming a principal. Jon achieved his goal and for five years he was an administrator and teacher at Fellowship Christian School with his current colleague Connie Gale. Another current colleague, Dr. Gary Coombs, founded the school.
Jon’s passion resonated with the development of his students. His determination to educate and disciple young adults guided him to teach part time as a history professor at his almamater. “History gives everyone, and particularly students, a significant portion of the 10,000 foot view of life. If students are willing to look, they are able to learn that the context of their lives is important,” Jon says of his choice of History for his scholarly pursuits. “I believe that a real liberal arts education creates someone who is able to think through various perspectives.” Jon has adapted his teaching style to engage even Millennials in the classroom. He is famous for including hats and beanie babies in his repertoire of teaching tools to convey historical concepts like McCarthyism and society’s constraining morés.
As an SDCC student, Jon enjoyed intramural sports. A young woman named Debbie Bonebright attended the same volleyball game that Jon came to watch. She caught Jon’s eye at the game, and again later in the Main Lounge watching the World Series. Jon invited her to go to the Yogurt Mill after the game. By Christmas of that same year, they were planning to get married.
During that era, an engagement announcement caused a flurry on the campus. Becoming engaged required getting permission, not only from Debbie’s parents, but also from the Dean of Students. Dean Don Blackburn gave Jon his blessing. Word spread quickly causing all of the women students to converge in the lounge with the Dean of Women, Joanne Adams, while the men watched through the windows. The tradition was for the Women’s Dean to pass a lighted candle from one to another until it arrived in the hands of the newly engaged young woman who blew out the candle. Debbie received squeals, hugs and smiles while Jon was carried to the upper campus where he was covered with honey and cornflakes!
Today, Jon and Debbie (APS graduate, 1997) have three daughters—Richelle, Heather, and Kelsey. Two have attended SDCC, while Kelsey is a senior in high school. Debbie teaches first grade at Christian Elementary School. Jon is active in his church and leads a home small group. For relaxation he sometimes plays a round of golf. Jon completed his MA in History at San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in History at Claremont Graduate University. In December 2007, Jon had his dissertation reworked and published as Send the Light: TEAM and the Evangelical Mission, 1890-1975. He continues his research and scholarship in writing articles for the Evangelical Review of Society and Politics. He is currently finishing an article on the religious components of American foreign policy to be included in a journal and an edited book on that topic. He hopes to publish another book on American religious history in the coming years.
Jon continues to point to Galatians 2:20 as his verse,
just as it was in the 1984 Christian Heritage College yearbook.
“It’s not my life,” he says, “it is Christ living in me.”