Morning clouds gave way to sunshine and a beautiful spring day on Saturday, May 9, for Regent University’s historic 35th commencement ceremony. Nearly 1,000 of Regent’s 1,500 graduates – the largest class ever – participated in the ceremony to receive their associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. Their achievements were recognized by an audience of 7,500 family members, friends, faculty, staff and honored guests.
Among those honored guests was commencement speaker and Regent alumnus Dr. Jay Sekulow. The chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and the European Centre for Law and Justice has presented oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He told Impact that addressing Regent’s Class of 2015 was different than those other experiences, because his focus was on the graduates: “A commencement speech … takes on more of a role of an exhortation and a charge, rather than a legal argument.”
That charge evoked World War II’s “greatest generation” and challenged the university’s graduating class to accept that same mantle of leadership: “I believe that your generation has that same responsibility — to be the greatest generation. Because the threats, the level of engagement, the adversaries are sophisticated, are here, (and) are in your country of origin.”
“Look at your circumstances and say, ‘With God I can do anything, especially those things according to His will and plan.’”
-Dr. Jay Sekulow
“We are supposed to be Christian leaders to change the world,” Sekulow continued. “How do you change the world when the world is changing so rapidly around you? How you change is by adapting to the situation you find yourself in. You rely on all of the knowledge that God has allowed you to acquire. But maintain a degree of flexibility and humility as you exercise those gifts you’ve been given.”
The best-selling author and international litigator further encouraged Regent’s newest alumni to be flexible and “molten.” He said it was crucial for each of them to allow the Lord to “create in you the unique work that only you have been created to do.”
“Never look at your circumstances and say, ‘I can’t do this,’” he explained. “Look at your circumstances and say, ‘With God I can do anything, especially those things according to His will and plan.’”
Sekulow closed his commencement address by reminding graduates that they are God’s agents for change, hope, compassion and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We have to be the communicators of that message,” he said. “Resist evil; reform society; restore relationships; and persevere in the fight, as we proclaim the King of kings and the Lord of lords.”
Regent’s founder, chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson then issued his challenge to the Class of 2015, saying: “Be strong. That is the charge that God Almighty gave to His servant Joshua when he was ordered to go into the Promised Land. God said, ‘Be strong and courageous’ (Joshua 1:9, NIV). I don’t minimize the dangers that are set before you. I don’t minimize the problems that are out there. As you leave here, don’t minimize the strength that you have. You have strength in Jesus Christ. You have strength that God has put inside of you. You have strength in the Holy Spirit, and more than anything, you have the strength of the Word of God. … Whatever endeavor you step into, be strong!”
Also during the ceremony, Dr. Gary Roberts, a professor at the Robertson School of Government, was recognized as the university’s outstanding faculty member with the annual Chancellor’s Award. Graduates also heard from 2015 Alumnus of the Year, U.S. Congressman Scott Rigell ’90 (Business & Leadership), who called receiving the award “humbling.”
“There are many, many thousands of Regent graduates who are serving with excellence and changing the world,” Rigell said. “So often in our Christian life, we elevate the need for humility, and we should never lose hold of that truth. But there’s an equally important principle. … As Christian leaders, in whatever field you are in, we are to reflect confidence and boldness and our creator God.”
During the event, Regent also celebrated an important milestone — the graduation of its 20,000th graduate, Lydia Crutchfield. As she crossed the stage, confetti cannons burst with green and blue ribbons, and a special banner was revealed: “Celebrating 20,000 Graduates and Counting.” (Read more on p. 6 about Regent’s “milestone” alum.)
When asked, after the ceremony, why it’s so important for Regent to continue equipping the next 20,000 Christian leaders to change the world, Sekulow replied, “The world is facing unprecedented problems, all of which are unfolding on a global scale. Regent’s commitment to training a generation of leaders to confront these problems with bold initiative and concrete plans is paramount.”
For more information about enrolling in a Regent degree program at one of the university’s eight schools, call 800.373.5504 or visit regent.edu/apply.