Two Locations, One Bold Future
RUC merger brings the Radford experience to Roanoke
By Mary Hardbarger
The Fall 2019 semester welcomed the first class of Radford University Carilion (RUC) students into the Highlander family, along with 19 new academic programs as a result of the merger.
Prior to the first day of classes, students attended the inaugural RUC Convocation and New Student Orientation at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, where they were inspired and encouraged by President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., and Carilion Clinic President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Howell Agee.
“As the first class of Highlanders at RUC, I will say to each of you that we are making history, and you will continue to do that as we move on past this point,” President Hemphill said.
“You are a part of our Carilion family. You are a part of our Radford family. And, you are the heart of Radford University Carilion,” Agee emphasized.
Students shared in the excitement of RUC at a lively reception held afterward.
Maddie Kutzera, of Hagerstown, Maryland, had just moved to the area and was looking forward to a change of scenery and being a member of the Highlander family.
“I’m not familiar with Roanoke, Virginia, but I’m excited to be here and in the mountains. It’s a big change for me, personally, and I can’t wait to be part of a University that really wants its students to succeed,” Kutzera said. “I’m also excited to get to know a lot of my classmates. My program only has 42 people, compared to my undergraduate university, which was much larger.”
Kutzera is enrolled in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) program, one of the new degrees offered to Radford University students as a result of the merger. The 27-month professional program is very competitive and the first of its kind in the Commonwealth.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and I’m hoping to specialize in mental health, which is one of my strong passions,” Kutzera said. “This program is a fabulous fit, because it is so patient-centered. It also has small class sizes, so you have the ability to learn so much from really knowledgeable faculty.”
Zach Mineroldi, of Salem, Virginia, had been working at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital after earning his bachelor’s degree.
“I was working in the physical therapy department, which inspired me to get into that field,” Mineroldi explained.
Because of RUC, he could do just that, not far from his hometown.
RUC offers a Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) associate degree, which Mineroldi is now pursuing. RUC PTA graduates are highly-skilled and regarded, and a major point of pride is that 100% are employed within a year of graduation — many before they graduate.