In what has become a post-commencement tradition at Regent, six outstanding graduates spoke
about their journey at the annual Chancellor’s Luncheon. The following accomplished graduates have
overcome obstacles, thrived in their field of study and exhibited great potential as rising world changers.
Originally from Hampton Roads, Allisha persevered through many trials to earn her doctorate in special education. She also found her passion and calling in the process.
When she was 16 years old, her stepfather attempted to murder her mother. A quiet, well-behaved student, she was shocked when a police officer picked her up from school and brought her to the family’s bloodstained home. Terrified, she packed a bag and joined her severely injured mother at the hospital.
“During those moments of watching my mother in her physical therapy sessions, my heart was softened to circumstances I had never experienced before,” Allisha recalled. “I could not recall any exposure to people with disabilities until my mother acquired her own. Little did I know, God would use this situation to help me as a wife, mother and educator.”
Allisha is grateful for Regent’s rigorous, Christ-centered Special Education program. She says her education makes her “feel equipped in the educational field.” Adding, “I look forward to a career in higher education, where I can share my passion and experience with the next generation of special education teachers. I’m also excited to continue my research on educational practices utilized in public schools.”
Chris earned his doctorate in strategic leadership from the School of Business & Leadership. He shared that he has seen the Lord open doors all his life. He serves as the CEO of the National Christian Foundation, one of the largest Christian nonprofit organizations in the world. But his path to Regent began with an unlikely plug from the dean of graduate studies at another university.
“He knew the journey of my life was in the intersection between ministry and the marketplace,” Chris explained. “He said to me, ‘You need Regent University’s Doctor of Strategic Leadership program.’ And how right he was.”
His Regent journey may have taken six years, but it changed Chris’ life in ways he could have never imagined. “Has it been rigorous? Yes, at points. Has it been difficult or overwhelming at times? Absolutely. Has it been humbling? One of the most humbling things is when you end a session online with a cohort of students and you say, ‘Wow, those are some of the smartest, brightest people I’ve ever been involved with.’ But one of the greatest experiences is … a professor regularly, earnestly, genuinely praying for you. They are rooting for your success.”
God told Cheryl and her husband, Jasper, to “Go!” So, they obeyed and trusted Him every step of the way, moving their entire family from Singapore to the U.S. In terms of miles, her Regent journey was the longest, and she’s thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness in bringing her so far to achieve her dream of receiving a Master of Divinity degree.
“Life was comfortable, we had stable jobs and a great church community in one of the best nations to live in,” shared Cheryl. “In 2015, the Lord began stirring our hearts that it was time to leave everything familiar behind and move here to pursue our degrees at Regent.”
The mother of three said they wrestled with their decision, which was both exciting and terrifying. “But the call was clear: Take a journey of faith and allow God to lead us wherever He desired,” she explained. “We’ve experienced things that we never would have if we had stayed in Singapore — the education we’ve received, the friendships we’ve forged, and the global community we are now a part of — we would do it all over again.”
Rob has faced the frontlines of battle through his ministry to the military. His hope and joy in the Lord are contagious. This made him an incredible chaplain for 10 years, counseling and caring for service members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.
After realizing he needed to be better trained and equipped for God’s call on his life, Rob discovered Regent. A former psychology professor and mentor suggested he check out Regent because, in his words, “They have a solid and reputable program with great people and are doing some great things.”
“He couldn’t have been more right,” Rob insisted. “First and foremost, the people here at Regent, both faculty and staff, have been incredible: professional, intelligent, attentive, and deeply committed to our personal and professional growth.”
As a Navy chaplain, he also appreciated how his master’s program integrated the best of science with faith and how it was designed with the flexibility he needed: “I was literally completing assignments for my courses right in the middle of global war and crises.”
Rob concluded, “I am so grateful for your passionate investment in me and my fellow students. Because of you, we can better part the clouds, snatch a piece of heaven, and share it with the world. Because of you, we can bring shalom (peace). Because of you, we can change the world.”
Inna enjoyed being a Regent Royal by competing on the university’s track and field team. She graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology but hopes to continue her education. Her goal is to minister to orphans in her home country of Ukraine — children just like her.
“When I think about my life it becomes evident that God’s hand was with me even through the hardest times,” Inna said. “Growing up in a small village in Ukraine, I never knew what it meant to be loved, cared for or protected. My dad died from alcohol poisoning when I was five, and my mom was left with my two brothers and me without money or a job.”
Taken from her home in the second grade by government workers, Inna spent several years in an orphanage. As a young adult, she went to a vocational school and met a Christian couple who became her forever family.
“Through their love and acceptance of me, I found my salvation in Jesus and my purpose for life,” she explained. “With my new family, I started as a volunteer and soon became the first employee in a new project of Orphan’s Promise (a sister ministry of CBN) in the central part of Ukraine.”
The Orphan’s Promise staff helped her apply for a student visa, and Inna eventually received a Chancellor’s Scholarship to attend Regent. “God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams, and He gave me a future,”
she insisted. “He turned my eyes to the needs of many vulnerable children around the world who need someone to care for and love them unconditionally. I am ready to follow God wherever He leads me, and I am grateful that He turned my pain into compassion for other people.”
Five years ago, Joe was living in an Omaha, Nebraska, homeless shelter. He is a recovering addict who lost his marriage, his children and his job to alcohol.
“I was severely depressed,” Joe shared. “I was convinced God had given up on me, and I was of no value whatsoever, especially to my children. Life was very dark. … I moved into the homeless shelter so that I could join a substance abuse treatment program, where I would spend the next eight months. While I was there, I got sober — and I also made a decision to turn my life over to Jesus.”
Joe said that’s when miracles began to happen. At the homeless shelter, he felt God calling him to become an attorney again. Years earlier, after earning his bachelors, he rejected the Lord’s initial leading to pursue a law degree in favor of the money and prestige promised by a career in financial services. After leaving the homeless shelter, getting a job, and moving to Pittsburgh, he applied to Regent’s School of Law, was accepted, and even received a scholarship that makes it possible for him to earn his Juris Doctor degree.
“Shortly after getting here, I heard Dr. Robertson speak,” Joe recalled. “Someone asked him why he decided to start Regent, and he said that God had called him to do it, and it has been a huge blessing. I knew I was in the right place because that was exactly how I felt about law school. I knew God had called me to do this, and now, I’ve been blessed to graduate towards the top of my class.”