Imagery of Regent people and campus

Regent Celebrates New Class of Graduates

By Amanda Morad | May 4, 2013

Ryan T. Anderson
Photo by Alex Perry

Grey skies and a little rain couldn't dampen spirits at Regent University's 2013 Commencement ceremony, where 1,345 graduates celebrated years of hard work and anticipated the future together on Saturday, May 4. More than 5,500 friends and family members attended the event as graduates from all eight of the university's schools crossed the Library Plaza on Regent's campus in Virginia Beach, Va.

Following the National Anthem by Army Staff Sergeant Patricia Conyers and a presentation of the Regent University hymn, "Regent, Host of Faith and Learning," Regent president, Dr. Carlos Campo, welcomed graduates and their guests, celebrating each school's highest accolades as students cheered, and reminding them of what unifies them all.

"You are part of a remarkable narrative that began with 'in the beginning, God created,'" he said. "Here we gather today... and out of the many, one narrative emerges in Christ Jesus."

He then introduced the Donahue sisters: Grace, Lily, Rachel, and Holly. With two of the sisters having already graduated from Regent's College of Arts & Sciences and two graduating this year, the Donahues now represent the family with the most Regent alumni. Each offered their thanks to professors and former classmates and their congratulations to the graduating class.

Michael Little, president and CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network, on behalf of Regent's Board of Trustees, greeted attendees. "This is a class of leaders who will infuse this culture with innovation and excellence," he said. Drawing inspiration from Orville and Wilbur Wright, he encouraged graduates to bring something new to the world. "It is our challenge to be like Orville and Wilbur; to be innovators who see what others do not see and to see before others see. May you change the world with your God-inspired visions."

Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., was the ceremony's keynote speaker. As part of a public policy think-tank, Anderson believes the nation faces a crisis of moral truth and charged students to defend what they've learned in their field of service as well as in their faith.

"You are graduating into a society of rampant individualism and relativism," Anderson said. "You will hear people speak of human rights, but notice that they are unable or unwilling to speak of human nature, or nature's Author." Instead, Anderson encouraged graduates to also think in terms of life responsibilities, including service to God, family and community.

Yet these responsibilities and duties all boil down to one thing, he said: "Love. Love isn't just an emotion, it's a choice. Put love into action. Love your families and your friends. Be a faithful spouse and parent. Take care of your parents as they age. Be a good employee and, one day, a good employer. Serve the poor, and welcome the stranger."

In closing, Anderson encouraged graduates to remember that "authentic freedom is about fulfilling responsibilities, being free to do good, serving our neighbors in love, and bearing witness to the truth," he said. "Only in the truth is authentic freedom possible."

Following Anderson's address, Regent's Founder and Chancellor, Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson, offered a charge to the graduates. "Be strong and very courageous," he said, quoting from the book of Joshua, in which God assured Moses' successor that He would be with Israel as they entered the Promised Land. "God is with you, but you must move ahead, because before you will be giants," Chancellor Robertson said. "I guarantee you'll run into obstacles; but I also guarantee that God will be with you, and the giants will fall at your feet as you move in to take the land."

Representing the class of 2013, School of Psychology & Counseling graduate John Allen King responded to the Chancellor's charge. "Today we leave this place to change the world," he said. "We have been prepared to expand the Kingdom of God and shine our light in the dark places." Using lyrics to the hymn "Take my life," King encouraged graduates to submit their intellect to God. "The most important thing we can do now is lay this degree at the feet of Jesus and offer our abilities to God."

Dr. Bonicelli then presented the annual Chancellor's Award to Dr. Vinson Synan, Distinguished Professor of Church History in the School of Divinity. The Chancellor's Award is conferred each year upon a faculty member whose scholarly accomplishments are exemplary. Synan is one of the leading scholars of the Renewal Movement in the 20th century, has published 19 books, and is the co-founder and past president of the Society of Pentecostal Studies.

Chancellor Robertson next announced the Alumna of the Year, Grace Pandithurai '10 (Law). As a prosecutor in Wichita Falls, Texas, Pandithurai works to protect children who are victims of sexual assault. She has been the lead on cases that led to the conviction of serious sex offenders and has served as the assistant district attorney for the past two years.

At the conclusion of these recognitions, students became alumni as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. When College of Arts & Sciences graduate Kathy Morales was called, she was recognized for more than her Bachelor of Science in Business degree. As Regent's first Army ROTC cadet, she was also commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army by Lieutenant Colonel Brian Kerns, Professor of Military Science, U.S. Army ROTC.

Celebrating their accomplishments and looking to the future with hope, Regent University offers its congratulations to the class of 2013.


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