The Impact of Alumni Involvement
One way Radford University alumni can give back to the next generation of Highlanders is through volunteerism. Audra Shekleton ’04 has stayed engaged by doing just that – giving back to the university that helped her on her journey to success.
After graduating from Radford with an accounting degree in 2004, Shekleton joined Ernst & Young (EY) as an assurance manager. She progressed at the firm and was made a partner in 2016. Her role at EY led Shekleton to come back to Radford more frequently to recruit Highlanders to EY. On these trips, she was able to connect with her professors, including Dr. Bruce Chase whom she had worked with in the Government and Nonprofit Assistance Center (GNAC) as a student.
“Working with Dr. Chase was probably the most influential for me,” explained Shekleton. “He recommended public accounting. His career guidance and the experience I gained in the GNAC definitely set me up for success.”
Her professors connected her with the dean of the Davis College of Business and Economics, and shortly after, Shekleton became part of the Davis College Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides guidance and support for the development of the business programs at Radford and advises the dean and faculty. It also provides students with the opportunity to network with alumni and business leaders in the community.
Shekleton speaks to one accounting or auditing class each year to share her career experiences, and she makes sure that each year EY is present at Firm Night, an annual networking event sponsored by Davis College’s Department of Accounting, Finance and Business Law, which allows students the opportunity to meet with various firms. As part of the Advisory Board, Shekleton also has donated to assist students who faced financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being on the Advisory Board has been extremely rewarding to me as it allows me to give back to the college that did so much for me in my career.
In addition to her duties as a partner at EY, Shekleton leads the people initiatives in the Richmond office, including serving as the Executive Sponsor of the People Advisory Board and Sponsor of the Professional Women’s Network. She also serves on the Virginia Community Board of Directors for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has worked with the March of Dimes High Heels for High Hopes campaign.
In 2018, Shekleton received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which is given to an alumnus 35-or-under who has made significant career achievements and has been actively involved in Radford University programs or civic and volunteer activities.
“Receiving the award was a tremendous honor – one that I am very proud of,” explained Shekleton. “I owe much of my career to the faculty and staff here at Radford University.”
In 2020, Shekleton met Jordan King ’22, one of two students from the Davis College Fellows Program who presented to the Davis College Advisory Board about the program, which provides valuable learning experience to students in the four domains of business education: business knowledge, professional development, leadership and community and global citizenship.
“I was immediately impressed by Jordan’s demeanor and professionalism,” recalled Shekleton. “I then learned that she was from my hometown and had attended my high school. Given our similarities, Dr Bhadury recommended mentorship, and I was honored to do it.”
“Throughout my career, I have been passionate about helping and mentoring women professionals because I believe it’s important to have a strong female leader to look up to. Jordan and I have connected about once per month over the last two years to talk about whatever is going on in her education and career path at the time. Jordan is very motivated, and I have no doubt that she will do great things in her future.”
Shekleton has been able to be part of the continued growth on Radford University’s campus while supporting students as they work toward their future careers. When alumni give back, whether it be in the form of philanthropy, volunteerism or mentorship, they have the ability to make a lasting impact.