Featured Alumni

Mike Ashley, Class of '83


By Breann Pendleton

Alumnus Mike Ashley physically left Radford University in the year 1983 but his heart has remained here all along. You can actually hear his passion for journalism when just listening to him talk.  

Ashley’s career in journalism began in high school with his school basketball team.

“My high school basketball team in Salem didn’t do too well, but the coach Joe Davis liked the way I handled the reporting for the games,” Ashley says.

This same coach would be the one to make Ashley the first ever “recruited” sports writer for Radford University. Ashley spent a year in community college then was contacted by his old high school basketball coach. Davis went on to coach for Radford’s basketball team for two years before Ashley decided to attend Radford University.

Read more about Ashley by following this link: Mike Ashley

Travis Wells, B.S. '95


By: Christian Millsaps

With 26 years under his belt, Travis Wells is an established sports journalist who serves as the Sports Director for WDBJ-7, CBS’ Roanoke, Virginia affiliate station. Before he got this job, though, he had a humble beginning in a position he didn’t even want to fill. 

Before Wells graduated from Radford in 1995, he had already spent time working for WDBJ-7 as an intern for Mike Stevens, the sports director at the time, Steve Mason, a sports reporter, and the late Roy Stanley, who was the weekend sports anchor. His time as an intern allowed him to build a working relationship with Stevens and Mason as well as work on his craft. 

Read more about Travis by following this link: Travis Wells

Priya Ramesh, M.S. ’03

By Bailey Black

Priya Ramesh M.S. ’03 was a journalist in India before making her way to Radford University to pursue a career in corporate communications.

Ramesh initially entered the working world after earning a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Madras in Chennai, India. After a few years of being a journalist, she realized she wanted to apply her communications skills in a different way.

“I realized I could have a bigger impact,” explained Ramesh. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the side of a company I believe in and help them be more relevant to the news cycle?’ That was my introduction to corporate communications.”

Read more about Priya by following this link: Priya Ramesh

Arielle Retting-Class of '12


By Max Esterhuizen

Arielle Retting ’12 always knew she wanted to be a copy editor. Through ample opportunities while a student at Radford University, she made her dream a reality.

Retting has had a dynamic and exciting career, with stops at organizations including The Washington Post, The Guardian and WIRED, before her current job as a copy editor at NPR. Before she landed each of these gigs, she got the experience she needed at Radford University.

As a student, Retting took full advantage of the opportunities available to her and participated heavily in student media at the Tartan and WHIM Internet Magazine.

“Halfway through my sophomore year, I became editor-in-chief of WHIM,” Retting said. “I just went for it, and I got it. It was really hard, but the cool thing at the time with being a cutting-edge magazine, it was open to interpretation. It was helpful to have something that didn’t have a lot of legacy behind it.”

Since Retting and the other student leadership at WHIM were starting out their collegiate careers, they were able to establish a production process, timely deadlines and a structure that previously wasn’t there.

Read more by following this link: Arielle Retting

Peter Mason shows that journalism takes perseverance and hard work


By Jeremy Moser

When Peter Mason left Radford, journalism degree in hand, he had already started working at the Southwest Times in Pulaski. He had been there for a month when the editor there said, “You’re not meeting our expectations.” He was fired. 

“That was a cold, low-blow,” Peter says. “I had gone to school for four years studying this, I felt like I should’ve been ready to do it professionally.” 

Again, he tried working for another newspaper, the News Messenger in Christiansburg. It ended about the same way. 

 Discouraged, he moved back in with his dad at the end of that year and took some time to work and clear his head. However, he didn’t want to give up. It wasn’t just that he had spent four years learning how to do it, he held on to his passion for sports writing.

Ever since his dad took a young Peter to a basketball game, he has loved sports. As a kid, he loved to write, but didn’t think he could do it as a career. He spent a great deal of time at sporting events while doing marching band in high school. It turned him on to the atmosphere. So, Peter thought, “why not try being a sports writer?” 

After a year of working at Bojangles, Peter wanted to “get back on track.” He had the idea to go to grad school and get a master’s degree. His reasoning was, “It would set me apart from all the people who finished undergrad that were looking for jobs like that.” 

He thought, “It’s what I want to do with my career. I cannot just give it up because a few things didn’t go right.” 

He applied to a two-year master’s program at Virginia Commonwealth University. He wasn’t confident about being accepted. 

Read more about Peter by following this link: Peter Mason

Dave Parker

Parker (2)

By Courtney Young

One of the first events of Radford University’s COMS Week 2017 was Dave Parker’s ‘Like What You Do, Do What You Like: Career Advice from a TV and Radio Expert,’ Monday, April 10 at 10 a.m.

He spoke to the crowded Bonnie Auditorium with enthusiasm and nostalgia as he explained his experiences at Radford, and what it was like for him in the work force. Graduating in 1989, Parker got his start in the media industry with an internship in California, providing him with time working on several television game shows. After graduating Radford, Parker pursued a meteorology degree, and got a job doing the weather at a station in West Virginia.

Read more about Parker by following this link: Dave Parker

Olivia Rhiannon Abbott, Class of 2015

Olivia Rhiannon Abbott, Class of 2015

By Amy Caudill

The typical day for Olivia Rhiannon Abbott consists of waking up at 6 a.m. and getting ready for work. She gets to Don Jacobs BMW Dealership at 7:30 a.m. and starts her shift as the front desk receptionist. At 4:30 p.m., she battles the city traffic of Lexington, Kentucky, on her way home. She cooks, cleans, feeds her and her husband’s three dogs and calls it a day. But while this is Abbott’s current job, she has a lot more going on behind the scenes.

Abbott graduated in 2015 with a degree in media studies and a concentration in production technology. Ever since she was a young girl, she enjoyed watching Disney movies and reciting the lines to her parents. Because of this, her mother began entering her into school and church plays.

Click on this link to read more about Olivia: News & Events

Glenn Hall, Class of 2016

Glenn Hall, Class of 2016

By Colton Rhea McConnell

Glenn Hall, 22, of Falls Church, Virginia, who graduated in May 2016 with a degree in media studies with a concentration in production technology, has found a career opener at C-SPAN.

Hall works as a temporary video field technician for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network in Washington D.C. Hall first began working for C-SPAN in July 2016 and is scheduled to work until Nov. 11.

“I like working there,” said Hall. “It’s all unedited. It’s straight forward. There’s no cuts or commentary and the only time they have a news broadcaster or anchor is for their morning show, and most of that is getting opinion around the country.”

Click on this link to read more about Glenn: News & Events

Jeremy Jennings, Class of 2013

Jeremy Jennings, Class of 2013

By Kevon DuPree

Anytime professors have trouble with the technology in the new College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) building, he’s usually the first person on the scene. He walks hastily into the classroom where his assistance is needed with a huge grin on his face, solves whatever technological issues may be present, and returns to his office, located on the first floor of the CHBS building.

This tech-savvy individual is Jeremy Jennings. Jennings was hired on Aug. 17 as a technology specialist, specifically for Radford University’s newest academic building.

To learn more about Jeremy follow this link: News & Events

Steven Kaminski, Class of 1995

Steve Kaminski

“My best years were as editor-in-chief of The Tartan … we had such a great time changing it and making it something we would become quite proud of,” Kaminski said.

By Emily Lewis

It was one of those long nights in the office. Steven Kaminski was just waking up from a nap on one of the old, beaten down sofas in The Tartan office. While rubbing his eyes, he was thinking about the talk he had earlier that day with his staff. Was it his own irritation or was his staff not committed to the paper they were producing?

“My best years were as editor-in-chief of The Tartan … we had such a great time changing it and making it something we would become quite proud of,” Kaminski said.

To read more about Steven follow this link: News & Events

Christiana Marjakangas, Class of 2014

Photo of Christiana Marjakangas

Recent PR grad begins career with local job that benefits community

By Alex Pistole  (photo by Stephen Blake Jackson)

For some people, those first steps off the graduation stage are hesitantly taken. Of course it’s an exciting moment to wrap up your college career, but if your only prospects are to go back home or stay in Radford hunting for jobs, you may not feel ready for college to be over. This wasn’t the case for Christiana Marjakangas. When she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in public relations in May of 2014, she not only had a job lined up, she was already working in her field part time.

Thanks to her work with career services and PRSSA, and a lucky turn of events at one of the job fairs on campus, she had landed a part-time position with the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce a few weeks before the end of the school year. Only a week or two after graduation, Marjakangas was made the communication director of the Chamber, and had her first full-time job in the PR field.

To read more about Christiana follow this link: News & Events