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Equipped to Change the World

As part of an annual Commencement tradition, several students have been recognized by their school as inspiring graduates from the Class of 2024. These new alums overcame obstacles, thrived in their coursework, and showed great potential as servant-leaders ready to make an impact in their chosen field.

Leslie Harrell, DSL (SBL ’24)

A human-trafficking survivor and former drug addict, Leslie Harrell’s Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree from the School of Business and Leadership (SBL) is an amazing triumph over adversity, suffering, and evil. Leslie left home at 18 and fell into a violent world of forced prostitution, crack cocaine addiction, and abuse. But she found Jesus when she walked past a church with its doors wide open in the middle of the night.

“I heard the voice of God,” she recalls. “That night, I was delivered from crack cocaine. Instantly. That Sunday, I gave my life to Christ, almost 40 years ago. He changed my life, and I’ve dedicated myself to grabbing hold of my education. I went back, got a GED, a bachelor’s, got a master’s, and here I am today.”

Leslie serves as an outreach coordinator for at-risk youth and families on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Her programs focus on building character, fostering confidence, and promoting education and community service. As an ordained minister of the gospel, she plays a crucial role in equipping future leaders with the necessary tools to make positive behavioral changes and realize their full potential.

Also, she collaborates with local law enforcement to build relationships through community engagement. “I’m on what’s called a community response team,” Leslie explains. “So, when there’s a major issue in the black community, they call me because the people in the street would rather see someone that they’re familiar with.”

In her role as a parent-support facilitator with Truly Valued, Inc., Leslie coaches families in crisis by creating a nurturing environment for them to grow. She thanks Regent donors for empowering graduates, like her, to make a difference.

“Every dollar that they invest in the students and the education of those that attend Regent University changes and transforms this world,” she says. “Everything that they have given out of their earnings makes a major impact on what we do as we transition into this world. The world needs us now more than ever.”

Hailey Todd, B.A. (CAS ’24)

Hailey Todd earned admission to Regent’s highly competitive Honors College in 2020, intending to pursue a career in law and politics. But, during her time at the university, she developed a love for Israel that changed her career path. Hailey says the Lord has called her to serve on the frontlines in the battle to protect religious freedom for God’s chosen people.

“In my gut, I feel like I have no choice but to stand with them. I can’t ignore the feeling in my stomach that I have to do something,” she insists. “When I think of all the things the Lord has done over the past four years, it feels like this beautiful mansion, where I walk through one door and enter a hallway with a million opportunities.”

Equipped with her Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of Arts and Sciences, Hailey is grateful to donors who have so generously given their time, money, and prayers to bless her and thousands of other Regent students.

“You unlocked the first door for me,” she explains. “Everything that has come since is only because my scholarships made Regent a possibility. It allowed me to walk through open doors without fear because I had some assurance that I could survive financially on the other side. So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Solomon Foster Smith, B.S. (CAS ’24)

The Class of 2024 included Regent University’s first four graduates of the official Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Preparatory Program. Among them was Midshipman First Class Solomon Foster-Smith, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and has been assigned to the USS Robert Smalls in Japan.

Staff and peers describe Solomon as a humble and gracious young man who excels in everything he is assigned. He received recognition from the NROTC Preparatory Program for his top rankings in academics, community service, physical fitness, and cruise completion and was named the Hampton Roads Surface Navy Association’s Top Surface Warfare Officer for 2024.

On May 2, two days before the Regent Commencement, Solomon and his fellow Navy ensigns participated in a joint commissioning ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia. With his time at the College of Arts and Sciences now over, Solomon says it’s not just love of country that drives his desire to serve.

“It’s also a love for the people that serve the country,” he explains. “I’ve gotten to interact with a lot of interesting individuals. Hearing their stories and why they want to serve inspires me to want to serve them better. I can only do so by growing as a leader and pushing myself forward in that manner.”

While Solomon’s NROTC scholarship made it possible for him to attend and graduate from Regent, he still understands the important role donors play in helping to provide Regent’s rigorous academic curriculum, cutting-edge technology, and world class faculty to make the goals and dreams of students achievable. Solomon shares. “I thank those who have been supporting Regent and will continue to support the university.”

Kate Creecy, J.D. (LAW ’24)

As an undergraduate student, Kate Creecy intended to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. But a television interview with a woman who risked her life to escape North Korea helped change Kate’s career path and her life.

“She told me, ‘I didn’t escape for freedom. I didn’t have a word for freedom in my language. I escaped for a bowl of rice. I escaped because I was starving,” she remembers. “I was heartbroken hearing her story. After I finished the interview, I called my mom and said, ‘I have to work on human rights issues.’”

The native Texan found outlets to pursue that goal at Regent’s School of Law. “I met with Associate Dean Ernie Walton, and he said, ‘Kate, I have a school full of people who are just like you. We are people who get together to do things that matter, to serve real people, and to really change their lives. And if you want to do something like that, come here.’ That’s how I ended up at Regent.”

Just before the start of her second year at the School of Law, Kate faced a serious health issue. Through that struggle and physical challenge, she demonstrated tremendous faith in the Lord and humility in leaning on the Regent community for support during the most difficult times of her journey.

“I found out that I have a heart condition,” Kate explains. “I was extremely sick. I was having difficulty eating. Some days, I couldn’t walk. Some days I couldn’t stand. By the Lord’s grace, I didn’t fail a class. I didn’t fail a test.”

She adds, “I learned God is no less good and no less God on my bad days than He is on my good days. He miraculously sustained me through that time. I want to give God the glory for getting me through it. He’s the only reason why I am here today.”

Having focused on constitutional law, Kate says she can’t wait to litigate on behalf of everyday citizens “who are tired of having the government run their lives.” In her mind, practicing constitutional law is about protecting fundamental freedoms and basic human rights. Kate thanks Regent donors for giving generously and sacrificially to help provide the scholarship opportunities that made her Juris Doctor degree possible.

“That cost you something. I don’t think a scholarship is only a gift. I think it’s an investment,” she insists. “The Lord is stirring up the hearts of young people to push His Kingdom forward. When you give, you are enabling that. You are the driving force. You are the engine that is pushing that forward.”

LaShaun Daniels-Edney, Ph.D. (SPC ’24)

Another inspiring graduate from the Class of 2024 endured painful challenges on her road to becoming equipped as a Christian leader to change the world. Thankfully, those obstacles are behind LaShaun Daniels-Edney. After earning her Ph.D. from the School of Psychology and Counseling, she is celebrating the bright future that lies ahead of her.

LaShaun firmly believes that God has placed “a sacred calling” on her life and on the lives of every Regent graduate. As a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on the advocacy and education of students with disabilities, she strives to shine the light of divine grace, healing, and hope in a darkened world. She spoke about how her Regent journey was marked by heartbreak and loss, including the death of her husband in a senseless act of violence.

“Despite these trials, I remained unmoved in my pursuit of this degree. In the face of unimaginable grief and despair, I found solace in my faith. I clung to the promise that God would never forsake me,” she explained. “In 2021, I heeded a divine call to attend Regent University—a decision that would change my life forever.”

A widowed, single mother raising two sons, LaShaun said her Regent experience was made possible through a scholarship awarded for her dedication to advocacy and public service.

“I extend my deepest gratitude to the university donors. I am humbled by your sacrifice. Your generosity has opened doors, transformed lives, and created opportunities for students like me. You enabled God’s work to flourish. May your kindness be multiplied sevenfold, and may you reap abundant blessings for your selfless contributions.”

Arjola Mullaj, B.S. (CAS ’24)

Arjola Mullaj arrived in the United States from Albania in 2019. Even before coming to America, she wanted to attend a Christian university. Yet, despite living only a few miles from campus, she didn’t even know Regent existed.

Ironically, a Muslim friend told her about an “incredible university” in Virginia Beach. Arjola applied, was accepted, and enrolled in Regent’s Honors College in 2020. This inspiring graduate is grateful to Regent donors and friends who made possible her transformative journey to receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business.

“I want to thank every donor who has given and continues to give to support this university. Your donation, no matter its size, has touched lives here on campus and around the world,” she insisted. “It is incredible to see what God can do with the faith of a mustard seed, five loaves, and two fish.”

Arjola added, “What an incredible joy it is to partner with the Lord to make disciples all over the world. Truly, my friends, your donation is ministry; it is evangelism. I could not be more grateful. Your support is changing the world. I know because it definitely changed mine.”

“Our Job Is Not Yet Finished”

These six graduates are among the university’s most inspiring members of the Class of 2024. Your generosity opened the door for them and other graduates to say “Yes!” to God and answer His call to attend Regent University. Your faithful prayers and gifts are essential to this great work, but our job is not yet finished.

With your continued help and support, many more Regent students can become servant-leaders in media, education, business, ministry, government, law, health care, and other key areas of influence. By donating generously to our efforts, you are standing with us to equip Christian leaders who can change the world for God’s glory.

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