Class of 2018 arrives at Radford University with big plans
Before Radford University freshman Lauren Wright could even think about unloading her family's vehicle – packed to the brim with belongings – three members of the university's Greek Life community swept in, loaded a large cart, and wheeled her boxes, pillows and clothes away.
"I didn't realize there would be this many people to help," Wright said, trailing behind a hoard of student volunteers.
Wright, of Yorktown, Virginia, joined the more than 2,000 incoming freshmen who moved onto campus. As of Aug. 27, RU's 2014-15 new freshmen enrollment had reached 2,041.
Passing showers didn't slow the momentum of the hundreds of RU faculty, staff, clubs and other organizations, who pitched in across campus to lend a helping hand.
"I'm waterproof today," said RU student and Kappa Delta Rho fraternity member Derrick Barr, as he moved Wright into her Muse Hall dorm room.
Wright, a self-proclaimed "outdoors girl" said she was attracted to all the university has to offer, inside and outside of the classroom.
"I'm really eager to explore campus and the surrounding area," Wright said. "It's just so pretty here."
Planning to major in social work, she said she hopes RU will help her accomplish her career ambition of "helping others."
Across the hallway, Raekwon Burnette, of Charlottesville, Virginia, was settling into his Muse room with help from his grandmother, Katherine Thompson. Burnette likes sports, he said, pointing to a pair of boxing gloves sitting on his desk. He's looking forward to joining the university's boxing club – which will complement his planned major of sports management.
Brothers Hunter and Houston Moore of Fairfax, Virginia, began their journey together at Radford University. Younger brother Houston, an incoming freshman, moved into Tyler Hall first, followed by Hunter into Muse. Houston plans to study business. He said he was impressed by the College of Business and Economics building – currently the largest academic building on campus, which opened in 2012. Hunter is a transfer student and will enter the university as a junior.
Despite their differences in age and grade level, the siblings agreed they'd grab lunch together, occasionally.
Roommates Kirstin Robinson, of Cana, Virginia, and Stevie Siford, of Galax, Virginia, were also adjusting to their new home-away-from-home in Tyler Hall.
Both students, from rural Virginia, said they were attracted to RU's small-town feel. They plan to study sports medicine.
Siford is especially excited about the opening of the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center, where she has landed a job as a scorekeeper for intramural sports games. The center nearing completion this semester, and the new intramural fields are just two of several extensive construction and renovation projects happening on campus, which total more than $330 million since 2005.
Dozens of RU athletes were visible off the practice fields Friday. The men's soccer team helped students move in to dorms surrounding Heth Lawn. Head coach Marc Reeves said the effort was important for the team to connect with students and hopefully gain a few more fans in the stands this season.
"Some students come here and don't know about the high level of Division 1 sports we have," he said. "Our program is definitely moving in the right direction."
Parent Marianne Weddington noted another of Radford's outstanding programs as the reason her daughter, Christina, enrolled in RU.
Freshman Christina Weddington, of Midlothian, Virginia, plans to enter the university's nursing program.
When deciding on what college to attend this fall, Marianne Weddington said her daughter didn't have to search far to see the impact RU students are making in the work force.
"We started asking around at local hospitals, and they loved their RU nurses," Weddington said.
Joining Christina in the nursing program will be legacy freshman Whitney Mullen. Mullen's parents, Jenny '88 and Mike '90 met when they were students at RU, living two doors down from one another in an apartment complex.
"I used to think Radford was the only school when I was little," the Potomac Falls High School graduate said. "I'm excited. I've been ready to go away to college for a while now and I already feel really comfortable here."
Jenny Mullen, who earned her degree from RU in early-middle childhood education, is as excited by the change and progress at her alma mater as her daughter.
"I love the way the university is expanding," she said. "I'm very proud of RU. I'm very proud of our school."