Immediately following commencement every year, the Chancellor’s Luncheon honors outstanding graduates at a private event inside the Founders Inn. Each of the newly minted alums are given the opportunity to share their Regent story with family, friends, deans, vice presidents and honored guests, including members of the university’s board of trustees.
This year’s luncheon welcomed 10 graduates who spoke about what brought them to Regent and where God is taking them next. The compelling stories about their experiences left no question in the minds of anyone in attendance that they are all Christian leaders ready to change the world.
Anicca Harriot was named the Outstanding Bachelor of Arts Graduate by Regent’s College of Arts & Sciences. But even before finishing her degree (in less than four years), she already was making an impact. This past fall, while learning about vectors in a physics class, a friend took a photo of Harriot in a dance pose. After calculating the vectors in the photo and posting the image online, it went viral and earned her an invite to the White House. Other notable accomplishments during Harriot’s time as an undergrad included internships at Eastern Virginia Medical School and NASA Langley.
“What I learned here and what has been shown to me time and time again is that the Lord has a greater plan for my life than what I have for myself,” she insisted. “For the glory is to Him alone. Being at Regent has allowed me so many opportunities that I know I would have genuinely not received anywhere else.” Next fall, Harriot will attend the University of Maryland on a full scholarship with the goal of earning a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.
Shaker Rajasekar earned his Master of Fine Arts in Cinema-Television from the School of Communication & the Arts. He first came to Regent 20 years ago from India, but he only stayed long enough to take one class, International Cinema. “When I became a Christian, I wanted to get more Christian filmmaking into India,” Rajasekar explained.
Eager to get started, Rajasekar returned to India after his first semester at Regent to work in Bollywood, where he found success as a secular filmmaker. But three years ago, the Holy Spirit began pushing him back to the university: “I asked God, ‘What do you want me to do?’ Very clearly, He said, ‘Go back to Regent University and finish what you started.’ And … it’s a fantastic moment for me to stand here.” He added, “The dreamer can dream at Regent University.”
Rebekah Lloyd, a College of Arts & Sciences student, received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She began her Regent studies after nine years of honorable service in the United States Army: “I could not think of a better school to attend to learn psychology through a Christian perspective. And the fact that I was able to use my G.I. Bill here and have no financial burden made it even better.”
Lloyd finished her undergraduate coursework in December and is now working on a joint master’s degree in public administration and law as an on-campus graduate student. “You can feel the presence of God here. It’s unmistakable,” she told the luncheon attendees. “You know this campus is anointed, and I knew I needed to be here. … There is nothing that God cannot do when you completely surrender to Him.”
Michael Lewis, the Outstanding Master of Arts in Government Graduate from the Robertson School of Government, shared that he was born with some physical challenges: “I have great parents that said, ‘Whatever the world might say, you’re made exactly the way God wanted you.’”
While working in Richmond as a lobbyist for pro-life and disability rights, Lewis began looking into pursuing his graduate degree. He wasn’t familiar with Regent, but a visit to Virginia Beach two years ago convinced Lewis that it was the university for him. “About two months before my wife and I got married, we came down to campus and immediately felt like family,” he remembered. “I would highly recommend this wonderful family to anyone.”
Lisa Ramsey earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision from Regent’s School of Psychology & Counseling. She’s a missionary with the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Eastern Europe: “I’ve worked in Kosovo for nine years now as a counselor. A few years back, I realized that I needed some skills that I didn’t have. I needed to learn some things to make me more effective as a leader and as a trainer of counselors.”
Ramsey says she began to pray about finding the right Ph.D. program, so she asked a friend for her opinion: “Without hesitation she said Regent University. She knew the quality of the education here. So I went to Regent’s website and looked it up, and it said ‘Christian Leadership to Change the World.’ And I thought, ‘I found my home.’ This is what I want to do; I want to see the world change for Jesus.”
Daniel Wani, a graduate from Regent’s School of Law, is from South Sudan. His family made headlines in 2014 when Daniel’s wife, Meriam, was imprisoned in Sudan and sentenced to death by hanging for her Christian faith. “Coming from a Muslim family, when she married a Christian, she was persecuted and was soon arrested,” Wani explained. “Meriam’s release came after international condemnation from the governments of the U.K., the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands.”
After his wife’s release, the Wanis emigrated to the United States: “We were greeted with open arms. This was the beginning of hope for me and my family.” After that terrifying ordeal, Wani, who is wheelchair-bound due to muscular dystrophy, was given the opportunity to attend Regent. “I am thankful to the American Center for Law and Justice and Dr. Jay Sekulow (university trustee) for my scholarship,” he told those gathered in the ballroom. “Money donated to this university truly reaches the students and has allowed me to become educated so that I can further help change the world. Thank you for this place of refuge and education.”
Wani also said that his Regent professors and classmates have truly become a second family to him: “I am thankful for their Christian leadership. Everyone I have encountered here, especially through the School of Law, has been personable, encouraging and full of wonderful advice. This unique school has given me hope for our future.”
Ligia Petan, Outstanding Graduate from the School of Business & Leadership earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership while studying mostly in her home country of Romania. Her degree was made possible through the generosity of university donors. “I’m very, very thankful for this scholarship that made it possible,” Petan shared. “It was a tremendous, valuable, formable experience, both academically and spiritually.”
The mother of two also is grateful for the support she received from the Regent community when one of her daughters suffered a severe brain hemorrhage shortly before birth. “I was at the hospital, and we didn’t know whether she was going to live. I was supposed to finish my coursework at the time, and emails of support kept on pouring in, assuring us that there was a community here praying for us and for our daughter. We really felt that. We were shown so much grace.”
Petan said her daughter survived and that her brain developed normally. Today, she’s a very bright and intelligent little girl: “I just pray that I will be able to pay forward everything that I was given.”
Sam Morgan, who just minutes earlier had received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the College of Arts & Sciences, told the audience that his Regent experience was about much more than academics. “It’s not just the classes,” he explained. “Certainly, the classes are great. The programs are great — all the things that we’re doing. But the Christian community is really what sets Regent apart.”
Morgan continued, “It’s really that Christian community that allowed me to grow and to develop into the person I am now. Not just mathematical knowledge — but as a person, as a Christian, as a leader, and as a follower of Christ.”
Jamie Stewart is a cancer survivor who received her Doctor of Education degree from Regent’s School of Education. She began her doctoral program in 2010, having just earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Regent. “I had a plan. I had a goal. I was ready to roll,” Stewart said. “God had different plans for me. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. I underwent treatment including chemo pills, radiation therapy, surgery and then six months of chemo.”
The cancer went into remission for nearly four years, but it returned in 2016 and had metastasized to her lungs: “Today, I am considered to be Stage IV with two inoperable tumors approximately 3-millimeter square — one in each lung. A matched set. But I smile when I talk about my cancer diagnosis because God’s got this!”
She doesn’t want people to feel sorry or pity for her. Instead, Stewart asked for support and prayer: “I received so much of those from the School of Education. What I did not receive was a lowering of expectations. My chair and my dissertation committee challenged me. They pushed me.” Adding, “I cannot say that earning this degree was easy. It wasn’t. It wouldn’t have been easy without the additional challenges I faced. Giving up on finishing would have been easy. But I didn’t and I survived.”
You can play a crucial role in equipping Christian leaders, like these graduates, with your tax-deductible gift to Regent University. Please consider becoming a World Changer Sponsor by calling 800.335.4409 or visiting regent.edu/worldchanger.