Regent University Commencement Affirms the Class of 2023 as More Than Conquerors
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (May 6, 2023) – Today, nearly 2,500 graduates, their families, and friends gathered at the Regent University campus to celebrate the culmination of hard work, determination, and unwavering faith. In the pursuit of more, these scholars turned their academic rigor, accompanied by the challenges of life, into the triumph of an earned degree. It’s on this mountaintop, hailed as Regent University Commencement 2023, where an elevated view of what was, what is, and will be—was worth the climb.
And so, it began…
While loved ones hunted for seats with the best view in the outdoor plaza in front of Regent’s library, men and women, each donned in cap and gown, assembled in order in the graduation line up.
“Despite the many obstacles in my wife’s path, Mary’s faith in God and dedication to learning, along with the support of her family, have lifted her to this remarkable accomplishment,” said Geoffrey Weiss, Husband of 2023 Graduate of Robertson School of Government. “This is a moment we will celebrate and cherish with her for many years to come.”
At 9:15 a.m., pomp and circumstance began to waft through the air as the graduation procession marched through the crowd of spectators towards their reserved seating. Loved ones rose from their seats to grab a picture of their cherished graduate. While others beamed with pride and searched for tissues after finally catching a glimpse of the scholar that they raised, encouraged, or prayed through to this very moment.
Once Regent’s Class of 2023 was in place, the Star-Spangled Banner rang out, letting all in attendance know that the Commencement ceremony had begun.
The crowd settled into their seats as Claire Foster, Executive Vice President for Enrollment Services, provided a cheerful invocation and welcome that encouraged the graduates to celebrate the joy and accomplishment that saturated this fragment of time.
“For me, this has been a long and winding road,” said Chad M. Minor, Ph.D., 2023 Graduate of School of Business & Leadership at Regent. “Like the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, I’ve taken a road less traveled to get here. Regent has taught me that if you never give up on pursuing your hopes and dreams, even if the road is difficult, success is inevitable.”
Foster raised the level of anticipation of the audience as she presented the list of accomplishments of the Commencement’s keynote speaker, Ambassador Nikki R. Haley. Visibly moved by the gracious reception, Ambassador Haley began to speak candidly to the Class of 2023 about the success that the future holds for those who insist on it. In addition, Haley leaned on her experiences as Governor of South Carolina and Ambassador to the United Nations—pointing out that the professional hurdles that Regent’s graduates are bound to face will prepare them to change the world, as more than conquerors.
“You’ve received an extraordinary education. Where other schools just fill your heads with facts, at best, this school devoted just as much time to filling your heart with faith,” asserted Ambassador Haley. “Your generation is the most important in American history. What you do will decide whether our country slides downward, toward division and loss of purpose, or moves upward, together, in pursuit of our timeless promise…Remember that as you leave Regent University and enter the real world, you’re going to find that things are, well, crazy out there…The challenges facing our country are even bigger than you know. You might feel pressure to abandon your beliefs—but stand up for yourself. Stand up for what’s right…As graduates of Regent University, you are uniquely ready to fulfill your calling. And I have faith you will help renew our country. Let’s do it together.”
As the graduation candidates continued to treasure the final moments of their academic experience, Dr. William L. Hathaway, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs approached the mic and thanked Ambassador Haley for her invaluable words of inspiration. Dr. Hathaway went on to recognize the outstanding graduates who were selected by the faculty for their exemplary scholarship, service and leadership.
“It truly takes a village to raise a doctor. I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my family, my Regent professors, and mentors,” said Melissa Davis, Ph.D., 2023 Graduate of School of Divinity at Regent. “I just can’t wait to make a measurable difference in people’s lives, as well.”
After acknowledging the graduation candidates who earned honors, as well as those being awarded with joint degrees, Hathaway invited this year’s student speaker from the Class of 2023, Eric J. Frederick, to share what he learned in the years leading up to this achievement as a student in the School of Communication & the Arts.
“Communication is at the heart of every meaningful relationship, whether work relationships, dating (or hanging out), marriage, parenting, or walking with God…Regent University has played an enormous role in shaping me to lead others in how we can communicate with Jesus on a daily basis,” Frederick attested. “Changing the world as a Christian leader means drawing others to the beauty of Christ. And that involves enjoying the shared nuances of His life as your bestie.”
Dr. Simon Tarr, Director of the School of Communication & the Arts and the Dean of the Honors College, followed up Frederick’s poignant reflections by presenting Regent’s accomplished alumnus of the year, who is selected for making a significant contribution to their field and embodies the school’s motto—Christian Leadership to Change the World. This year, the honor went to George Thomas, CBN News Senior International Correspondent, Co-Anchor, and Regent University School of Communication and the Arts alum.
“While I’m sure you will be presented with incredible opportunities, adventures and open doors as you embark on this new chapter in your life…I guarantee you will also face difficulties as well. The Bible says to expect it.” Thomas continued, “He tells us to put on the full armor of God so we can do battle with the enemy…When your dream or calling takes a detour, don’t give up. When the hardships come, take a stand. You are a chosen generation…You’ve been called at this time at this hour to show forth the Lord’s mighty excellence.”
Thomas’ wrapped his spirited words of wisdom by tasking the graduating Class of 2023 with the boldness to be who they are meant to be, while doing what they are called to do, as ambassadors, God’s regents in a lost world.
“My daughter, Destiny, graduating with her master’s degree from Regent makes our whole family proud,” said Marjorie Cyprien, Mother of 2023 Graduate of Robertson School of Government. “She lives by faith and God always shines His light on her. We are excited for what the future holds.”
As generous applause ushered Thomas to his seat, Dr. Hathaway made his way back to the podium to name the recipient of the 2023 Chancellor’s Award, an honor bestowed on a faculty member for exemplifying a profound commitment to Regent University, its mission, and its students. That honor went to Associate Dean Ernie Walton from the School of Law. A number of law students stood and applauded as Walton received this great honor.
“I have never worked harder in my life, but to make it across this stage as a graduate of Regent University Law School makes it well worth it,” said Abigail E. Hayes, J.D., 2023 Graduate of Regent University School of Law.
Mr. Phil D. Walker issued greetings as Regent University’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Chairman Walker had the pleasure of granting the final award for Commencement, the 2023 Honorary Degree. The Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree was awarded to businessman, former legislator, and philanthropist, Mr. Jack E. Shaw, for the kindness and generosity that he has gifted Regent University for nearly five decades. Shaw lives by this motto: “Distinguish yourself by your lifestyle of giving.”
“On this day a king is being coronated in England, I wasn’t invited…I believe what is happening today in Virginia Beach, Virginia…students receiving degrees will influence the world because of who they are more than the coronation of a king,” quipped Shaw. “I praise God and thank Him for Pat Robertson and the mission of Regent University. What are you doing to win souls to Jesus Christ? You are commissioned to share what Jesus has done for you. Will you be obedient?”
Shaw’s words acknowledging The Great Commission and the global assignment of believers steered the ceremony into the moment the crowd had gathered eagerly to witness. Deans of each school presented the graduation candidates for the conferring of degrees. Chairman Walker stood before the podium with admiration as he introduced Regent University’s Founder, Chancellor, and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson.
The sight of Dr. Robertson approaching the podium inspired attendees to stand on their feet and gift him with a deserving roar of applause. Some offered whistles while others shed tears of reverence. The unwavering will of Regent’s 93-year-old founder amplified the sentiment that a Regent graduate is called to a higher purpose.
Chancellor Robertson smiled as the Class of 2023 stood and took their place as Regent’s next generation of Christian leaders. Dr. Robertson then conferred their degrees, encouraged them to change the world, and sealed the moment with these words, “Congratulations graduates! You may now turn your tassels!”
With cheers, confetti, and the Regent Song floating on the gentle breeze, it was official—the end of one season and the beginning of the next. The graduates of the Class of 2023 left the outdoor plaza knowing that this ceremony placed them in the ranks of Regent University’s capable alumni—a designation that is 35,000 strong. Each, a member of God’s chosen—declared more than conquerors. And in any situation to come, that establishes them as more than enough.
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
About Regent University
Founded in 1977, Regent University is America’s premier Christian university, with more than 13,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 150 areas of study including business, communication and the arts, counseling, cybersecurity, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, nursing, healthcare, and psychology. Regent University has been ranked the #1 Best Accredited Online College in the United States (Study.com, 2020), the #1 Safest College Campus in Virginia (YourLocalSecurity, 2021), and the #1 Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Virginia for 11 years in a row (U.S. News & World Report, 2023).