16 Sep 2013 TonyaJohnson

Part 2 – Staying Together: Fun and Fellowship at a NYC Alumni Dinner

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Regent University - fountainRead Part 1 here.

My husband and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend Regent University’s Midtown Meet and Greet at the Salmon River Restaurant in New York City. It’s a place where RU leaders from Virginia and New York, along with alumni, guests, and current students, can mingle, dine, reminisce, catch up, discuss new happenings, network and stay connected. At this year’s event, I was able to talk with several Regent “family members” and friends during and after dinner.

When asked the following three questions,

  1. How would you describe your experiences at Regent University?
  2. How have you used the knowledge that you obtained by attending Regent University to impact your peers and the world for Jesus Christ?
  3. Is there anything that you would like to share with current and prospective students to inspire/empower them?

Here’s what some of our RU colleagues had to say:

1. Reverend David Putnam, School of Divinity, Class of 2012

Q- How would you describe your experiences at Regent University?

R- “Regent has been not only a life changing experience, but it has been a ministry changing experience. I came back to school in 2009 after 27 years of full time ministry, and I was really shocked at how much I still could learn. I never thought I knew it all in the beginning, but I have had a lot of experience, been a lot of places and have been a part of many wonderful things in ministry. I was really shocked in a very positive way about all there is to learn and, in particular, the practical application that Regent gave me for what they were teaching. It isn’t just what they teach you, but the whole infrastructure of the university is configured in such a way that it enables you to go from theory to practical application and I think that is probably the most wonderful thing, not that you just take a class or learn a theory but that it translates into actually being able to do something for the kingdom of God.”

Q- How have you used the knowledge you obtained at Regent to impact your peers and the world for Jesus Christ?

R- “Regent is really enabling me to relate to a secular mindset, a postmodern cultural paradigm in a way that I was not able to before. Now I have a foundation of understanding; I understand how their minds work so much better; so now I feel like I’m so much better equipped to reach a secular culture here in the United States. It’s one thing to be able to tell them about the Lord, but to be able to go into a society that’s really alienated Christianity– now I am equipped to go in and deal in a public way with that mindset. I feel like I could go into a forum where there are brilliant people who are arguing for naturalistic atheism and present the gospel in such a way that it would be irrefutable to them. What I’ve learned at Regent has made that possible.”

Q-Is there anything else that you would like to share with current and prospective students to encourage and inspire them?

R- “I think one of the things that you have to consider about Regent particularly if you’re involved with ministry is that every part of our life is a ministry. If you’re in music, drama, in business, you’re in ministry. Everything that we do, whether it’s in a pulpit or behind a microphone, or sitting at a desk or computer, it’s configured to make you a person that will change the world, and that’s our slogan; “Christian Leadership to Change the World.”

If you don’t have a vision, you come to Regent. You’ll get one. You don’t know what God wants you to do? Come to Regent. God will show you. That would be my advice; just come explore the possibility, pray about it, but expect to hear from God at Regent. You’re gonna hear something if you come.”

 2. Caesar Brazza, School of Law, Class of 2004

R- “With regards to the law school, the law professors were second to none. I think I got an excellent education there. Their witness as Christians really taught me just as much about life in general and the practice of law, not just the law itself. The other students there really opened my eyes to the Christian community in general. Coming from NJ, it’s not as prevalent, so I’ve really made some great lifelong friends there.”

Q- How have you used your knowledge to impact your peers and the world for Jesus Christ?

R- “The legal training by itself was fantastic. It’s really helped me in my career. I don’t think I’ve ever been held back at all. In fact, I think I’ve gotten ahead with the legal training I’ve received there. Again, the Christian witness really guides my entire practice. Almost every day I’m confronted with “unpleasant” situations as well as sometimes unpleasant people and instead of responding in kind, responding more charitably really changes the whole situation and ultimately, God willing, will plant a seed for some more fruitful discussions from there on.”

Q-Is there anything that you would like to share with current and prospective students to inspire/empower them?

R- The basic thing I would say is to keep focused. I know especially in my law school studies, it gets pretty hectic and it’s easy to get lost in the work. But if you keep focused, maintain a consistent prayer life and are mindful of balance, you’ll keep a perspective as to what’s important.”

Regent University - Ashley M. Gary-Roper3. Ashley M. Gary-Roper, School of Business & Leadership, Class of 2016

Q- How would you describe your experiences here at Regent University?

R- “So far my experiences have been wonderful. I did get a chance to attend preview weekend on campus before I actually started my program and I felt that it was so helpful. I got to meet a lot of students who were accepted to the program at the time, and the biggest help was actually meeting my advisor and seeing that the faculty and staff were actually on site. I was a little nervous starting the program, but they eased my anxiety and let me know everything was ok. It’s been very welcoming, family oriented in a way. It’s been great!

Q- How have you used the knowledge that you are learning right now to impact your peers, sphere of influence and the world for Jesus Christ?

R- “Right now, a lot of my coworkers are Christians…so we’ve been able to have conversations about ethics using Jesus as an example of how we should do things, how things should be run, the basis for making good decisions. At my company, there’s a focus on customer experience. That’s really what we’re focused on and I find that a lot of the biblical principles and character traits that I’m learning in my classes actually apply to customer experience. If you treat the customer how you want to be treated, then everybody’s going to win. It’s about helping people and really going the extra mile; not doing things because you have to, but doing things because you want to. So that’s been really gratifying.

Q- Is there anything that you would like to share with current or prospective students to inspire them and encourage them?  

R- I would really suggest that you communicate with your professors as early as possible. Just ask them questions that sometimes you think are too simple to ask. All of my professors, regardless of the questions, have been really helpful in directing me. This allows me to learn more and do better in class. And definitely participate within the forums online. You really get to know people by participating in the dialogue.


Being part of a local chapter of Regent University’s Alumni Association is a vital part of staying connected after graduation.

At a recent NYC Alumni Dinner, I had the chance to speak with RU representatives about the benefits of keeping in touch with your alma mater and the people with whom you share such a strong foundation. When asked what would you like to share with current and prospective students about being a part of Regent University’s Alumni Association?Here’s what some of the school’s current leadership had to say:

Regent University - Lauren Bassett1. Lauren Cheniae, Regional Alumni Program Coordinator

R- “I think that when you’re on campus or when you’re a student, you have this great opportunity to be in community with a lot of people. You get to learn from your professors and your classmates and just learn so much as a group. But I think that once you leave, there’s kind of a vacuum there, and we as the Alumni Association want to fill that. Whether it’s through dinners or through online communities, we want to make sure that students feel supported. Once they leave campus, we never want there to be a disconnect; we want to be there to support you. For employment infor16mation, for personal encouragement, for business networking opportunities; just anything that you need, we want to be able to be a part of a solution. So I encourage current students to look forward to becoming a part of the Alumni Association, and to be proactive about getting involved. Prospective students, I want you to know that after you leave Regent, we’re there for you just as much as when you’re on campus or studying.”

2. Darren Paul Shearer, Divinity Alumni Chair for the NYC Metro Chapter, Director of Development

R- “I would say, the first step is to get on LinkedIn and make sure that you start networking with your alums  from your respective departments first of all; and then definitely start connecting with people that are in the area that you’re going to be in when you graduate, because you never know when you’re going to need those connections. In fact, I just interviewed somebody for a job in my office just this past week that was a Regent alum; I’ve just recently connected with somebody that was a friend of mine but we lost connection after graduation. We connected on LinkedIn and now I’m helping him to get a book published; in fact my wife (Marie) is a Regent alum as well, so you never know what might happen when you step out and connect with your fellow alums.”


Having the opportunity to talk with other representatives of Regent University was a great joy. I was truly blessed by the words that were shared and would certainly love to hear more valuable words of wisdom from other members of Regent’s Alumni Association. I hope that you have been blessed by this and are inspired to continue moving forward to do great things in Christ Jesus. Until we meet again, God bless.

Tonya Johnson

M.Ed. in Christian School Program

Online Student

New York, NY

I am blessed with a wonderful family and believe that nothing is accidential, but carefully orchestrated and presented by an all-wise, all knowing, all powerful and mighty God. Praying daily to be a willing instrument in His divine plan.
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