Jose Koshy, Class of '76, delivers the Commencement address on Sunday, May 5, 2024. (Photos by Macson McGuigan/EMU, Cassidy Walker/EMU and Jon Styer/At Ease Design & Consulting)

Power of agape love, kindness at heart of 106th Commencement address

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Business leader and philanthropist Jose Koshy, class of ’76, delivered a Commencement address on Sunday, May 5, 2024, about the power of agape love and kindness.

What is ‘agape love’?
Agape love, often considered the highest form of love, embodies selflessness, sacrifice, and unconditional care for others. This profound concept, rooted in ancient philosophical and religious traditions, transcends mere feelings, emphasizing actions and commitment. (

Koshy was born in Brunei (Southeast Asia), moved to India with his family when he was five years old and arrived in the U.S. at age 15. Eventually, in 1970, his family found their way to Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Koshy graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School in 1972 and was a member of the Eastern Mennonite College Class of 1976. His career includes management roles at several Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications sector. Currently, he serves as executive vice president of Tribocor Technologies in Houston, Texas.

Koshy shared three acts of agape love and kindness he received at EMC that have guided him in building a career, a business and a family.

One of those acts, he shared with the 3,000-plus gathered for Commencement, was the kindness shown by then-Academic Dean Dr. Ira Miller, who invited international students like Koshy into his home and let them share their stories.

“I appreciated the intercultural learning, the mutual respect and the free exchange of ideas in those many discussions,” he said.

Koshy also shared the kindness shown by his former supervisor Milo Stahl, director of learning resources, who taught him how to thread film into a projector. Koshy recalled breaking the film several times and watching as Stahl patiently spliced and glued the film together each time.

“I was embarrassed and gave up on myself, but Mr. Stahl did not,” Koshy said. “He taught me how to splice and fix my mistakes. … I became the go-to guy to fix all the broken and damaged films on campus.”

When Koshy was an 18-year-old first-year student at EMC, his parents needed to leave Harrisonburg. He could not afford to live in the dorms and, “knowing my situation, God sent Rachel and Robert Stoltzfus into my life.” The couple lived near campus and took him in “with no questions asked.”

“Their home was small, but their hearts were big,” Koshy said. “They gave so much from what little they had. They were rich in spirit and they were generous with it — true agape love.”

Koshy and his wife, Jean Koshy-Hertzler ’79, have honored the Stoltzfus family by establishing scholarships at EMU for international students and inclusive excellence grants for faculty, staff and students.

Hebron Mekuria reflects on her experiences at EMU.

Undergraduates Hebron Mekuria and Ariel Morales Bonilla and MA graduate Chidi Ihezuoh offered graduate perspectives.

Mekuria, a graduate of the engineering and computer science programs, took a moment to remember Nathan Longenecker, a member of the Class of 2024 who was diagnosed with brain cancer in his second semester at EMU and passed away in October 2021. A memorial endowed scholarship fund has been created to honor his legacy. 

Ariel Morales Bonilla presents his perspective.
Chidi Ihezuoh speaks about his time at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

She spoke about their past four years, from taking online classes on Zoom to standing up for the rights of those oppressed around the world, in Palestine and in Ukraine.

“Very few things in this world are actually impossible,” she told the graduates. “Many things can be done. They can be hard, challenging and require lots and lots of work, but they can be done.”

Bonilla, a graduate with degrees in political science and history, expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the “simple, yet profound joys” of Fridays at the cafeteria.

“For many of us, Fridays meant smiley fries and burgers,” he said. “A day of closing each week with friends and community, laughing, sharing food, and sometimes talking about this very day… a graduation that you all remember.”

Ihezuoh, an MA in Christian leadership graduate, shared thanks for the relationships forged with faculty, friends and classmates at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

“Each one of us at the seminary was the support system for the other,” he said. “We all worked as a team.”

President Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman presided over the ceremony, and Provost Tynisha Willingham commissioned the graduates. The commencement was Willingham’s first; she started in the role in July 2023.

Join the Discussion on “Power of agape love, kindness at heart of 106th Commencement address

  1. Very powerful examples of Agape Love in one person’s experience. Thanks for sharing with us.
    In today’s culture of “dog eat dog” and laugh at the damage caused to many unfortunate people, we all need to look at and mimic this force of Agape in our daily relationships.

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