Leaving the Door Open to Opportunity

To cap her distinguished career as a social scientist, professor and administrator, Carole Seyfrit, RU professor emerita of sociology, left the door open for Radford University students to follow in her footsteps.

With a $16,000 gift on behalf of the Center for Social and Cultural Research (CSCR), Seyfrit is enabling students to develop the skills and experiences that enriched her career, one that took her across the country and across the world — including a Fulbright Scholarship to Iceland in 2008.

“I found research and research methodology to be cool,” said Seyfrit, who served as dean of the College of Graduate and Extended Education for three years. “An undergraduate class in research methodology made that light bulb go on for me and helped me decide to major in sociology.”

Kindling that light for her students was her motivation for the gift and her career as a teacher and researcher.

“Good research skills and an understanding of research methodology can be applied to any area of interest,” she said.

The gift has had immediate results. In the summer of 2014, two students embarked upon community-based projects of their own with support from the fund. Alexis Whitehurst, a senior sociology and psychology major from Dumfries, was the lead investigator on a project on behalf of the RU Disability Resource Office.

Madelyn Read, a senior psychology/sociology major from Virginia Beach, began a project on behalf of the Women’s Resource Center.

The CSCR offers social research services for university, community and regional needs. Among its range of projects are recording the stories of Floyd County World War II veterans and assessment work for programs like the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley Peaceline Plus and Cornerstone programs.

Seyfrit praises the students who take to the challenge of undergraduate research. “They are putting it all together,” Seyfrit said. “They are getting real research experience and that costs money. I would encourage others to give in support of these students.”