Come home to your #RadfordFamily on Oct. 6-8, 2017.
Alumna Linda Davis '95, M.S.N. '05, D.N.P '10 boosts eldercare services.
Jennie Teass Allman '67 makes a difference for current students.
Pattie DeLoatche '82 learned the art of compromise at Radford University.
Climbing guide Eli Helmuth '87 scales the heights of his profession.
Advertising maven Kim D'Aloise '97 follows in grandfather's footsteps.
For Levar Cole '02, paying it forward began as he walked off the McConnell Lawn after graduation.
Legislators' political careers sparked at Radford University.
Alumna and Radford University students preserve history.
Alumna Linda Davis ’95, M.S.N. ’05, D.N.P. ’10 boosts eldercare services
A health care provider’s focus is on service to the client, the family and their community.
Linda Davis ’95, M.S.N. ’05, D.N.P. ’10, a three-time graduate of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services’ School of Nursing, has shown just how productive one woman’s focus can be. Her creation of the Pulaski Adult Day Care Service and Fall Prevention Center (PADS-FPC) is tangible proof.
The facility rose from the rubble of the old Dublin Elementary School. The driving force was Davis’ commitment to serving an underserved community with which she was familiar both professionally and personally.
The credentials after Davis’s name — B.S.N., M.S.N., D.N.P., G.C.N.S.-B.C. — are a catalog of degrees earned at Radford University. Davis earned her bachelor of science in nursing in 1995, her master of science in nursing with a specialty in gerontology with board certification as a clinical nurse specialist in 2005 and her doctor of nursing practice, the terminal degree for nursing, in 2010.
Davis has successfully conceived, financed, promoted, coordinated construction and launched the $1.7 million dollar, 4,200-square-foot facility and program to serve Pulaski County. PADS-FPC has a registered nurse, a rotating pair of social workers and other expert caregivers and therapists to serve up to 30 clients a day.
The facility opened in November 2016 and capped a process that began for Davis in 2006 as she struggled to care for her own ailing mother.
“It has been absolutely amazing to see what the community has been able to do to help families who are dealing 24/7 with caregiving for a loved one,” Davis said.
The PADS-FPC, according to Davis, provides activities and a safe, secure environment for participants requiring supervised daily care. The adult day care center works with those suffering from dementia, physical disability, mental illness and developmental disabilities, among others. It also provides freedom, comfort, education and support for the caregivers who are responsible for them.
“To cut down on health care costs and the revolving door to the hospital, the center is a place where our clients can be creative, gain control of chronic disease, be monitored and socialize,” Davis said.
The facility serves Radford University students as well. The PADS-FPC is a site at which occupational therapy, nursing, physical therapy, music therapy, social work and recreational therapy students receive clinical experience. Alumni of those programs have also landed jobs on the PADS-FPC staff.
Bonnie Fox, 2016 recreation therapy graduate, recently joined the staff to supervise activities and Cindie Wolfe ’13, a music therapy graduate and board-certified music therapist, is a contractor who gathers the clients together for spirited sessions of song and sound.
Davis freely admits she had to gain mentors for the business aspects of the project. She credits her nursing mentors Ginger Burggraf, professor of nursing, and Vickie Bierman, associate professor of nursing, with being role models for the indomitable courage and nursing wisdom that inspired her to forge into the unknown on behalf of her clients and persevere. She credits emeritus faculty member Marcella Griggs with being another mentor. Griggs spearheaded the capital campaign to support the facility and its programs that is nearing its $500,000 goal. Davis said she also got invaluable guidance from David Shanks, former director of Radford’s Small Business Development Center, and Yolanda Hunter, MBA ’02, of Beans & Rice.
When the PADS-FPC opened its doors in November, it culminated Davis’ entrepreneurial building of a public-private partnership. Davis rallied support and effort from Pulaski County, a slate of local foundations, area businesses and citizens.
“Because of my long relationship with Radford University, I relied upon its faculty, staff and students as great resources,” Davis said. “In so many ways, Radford gave this project focus, skills and knowledge that I am blessed to share with my community and those trapped by a disability.”
During her residency as a D.N.P. candidate, Davis founded the Southwestern Virginia Fall Prevention Coalition. Last April, Davis focused her skills and passion for collaboration to coordinate a Fall Prevention Summit that brought experts from across the region together to address the persistent threat of falling to the growing gerontological population. The summit attracted support and cooperation from both major regional health care providers — Carilion Clinic and the Lewis Gale Health System.
“That event was a real breakthrough on working to build a statewide Fall Prevention Coalition, which will work to overcome the national health problem,” she said.
Radford University has always been key to the collaborations Davis has led to successful conclusions, she said.
“At each level of my professional growth and in these projects’ development, I would learn and apply the evidence, raise questions and find good advisors,” she said. “Our clients, their families and the community have benefited from the expertise available at Radford University.”
Jennie Teass Allman ’67 makes a difference for current students while looking forward to coming home to Radford for her Golden Reunion on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 during Homecoming.
Allman earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Radford College, now Radford University, with the intention of a long and wonderful career as a teacher. Although she taught for only two years, Allman still identifies herself as a teacher and has continued to support her community in roles such as Chairman of the Bedford County School Board.
Allman used her teaching skills to obtain her first job in corporate America as an educational representative with IBM in Roanoke. That position led to a business analyst role as marketing support representative. Then she moved to Dallas to serve IBM in its marketing department.
Allman returned to Roanoke to marry Bill Allman in 1973. She was offered a position with Norfolk and Western as assistant manager of administrative planning and then became manager of that department. She describes her time with the railroad as “an exciting opportunity to work with some of the best business minds in our country.” She was promoted to director of office automation soon after the merger of Norfolk and Western and Southern Railway. In 1987, she left Norfolk Southern to pursue some entrepreneurial projects, but was quickly rehired by the company as a consultant.
Allman became interested in golf courses when she and two other partners purchased Seven Springs in Chesapeake, Virginia. That venture led to the purchase of Ivy Hill Golf Club in Forest, Virginia; the construction of the River Course in Pulaski, Virginia; the renovation of the golf course at Oakwood Country Club in Lynchburg, Virginia; and then to a management contract at Poplar Forest Golf Course in Forest, Virginia.
Allman and two other partners purchased Oakwood Country Club in 2010, and she became the operating partner. “Operating companies are moving targets and require attention to detail by every employee. But they are fun because you are creating something that exists only because investors are willing to take a chance in the economy, and then dedicated employees are willing to work hard to get the results,” says Allman.
Her alma mater will always be special to her. She and a group of fellow graduates are making a difference for Radford students. She says, “the values reinforced at Radford College through such mentors as Bonnie Hurlburt ’58 have spun the fabric of my life. I am most proud of my membership in The Golf Society of Radford College. This group was first just friends getting together to laugh and have fun. After several years of just having fun, our Radford heritage kicked in and we wanted to do something good as a result of our time together. To combine those two objectives, we created a scholarship that grows each year as we renew our friendships on the golf course.” Allman and her friends believe that a scholarship is a great way to make sure that Radford values live on.
Allman encourages young people to not miss the joys of life while working hard to make a difference in the world. She admits that in her seventh decade, it is clear that the only thing anyone will leave behind is their influence on others. She believes that supporting a scholarship is a great way to live forever.
“During my time at Radford University, I learned how to work with colleagues from different backgrounds and different points of view,” said Pattie DeLoatche ’82. “I learned tolerance and a strong sense of self. I learned the art of compromise.”
For DeLoatche, senior policy advisor in the government strategies practice at Sidley Austin LLP, compromise is vital to her success. “I assist our clients in determining their goals and initiatives,” explains DeLoatche. “We then come up with a strategy for bringing these goals to the attention of Congress and the administration, and ultimately we help implement said goals.”
By providing strategic advice to the firm’s clients on legislative and regulatory issues before the administration, Congress and state agencies, DeLoatche is able to utilize over 25 years of experience she earned working as senior health policy staff with senior members of Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives. To hear DeLoatche tell it, her government experience began long before she was even born.
“I inherited a strong tradition of service to the country,” she said. “My grandfather was a tailor and a first-generation immigrant from Sicily. He worked on Capitol Hill in what they called the House ‘folding room,’ where he would operate machines that would fold and place government correspondence into envelopes.
“My mother worked for the Dwight D. Eisenhower White House,” DeLoatche continued. “As Christmas gifts, my mother received from President Eisenhower two signed prints of his paintings — a hobby that he picked up from Winston Churchill. Not a lot of people know that President Eisenhower painted. Both prints now hang in my home.”
DeLoatche’s path to Washington, D.C., was not without its detours, however, as her family would eventually relocate to southwest Virginia while she was still in high school. That relocation led her to Radford University.
“While in high school I met a Radford student who talked about the wonderful experiences she was having at Radford. The school wasn’t too big or too small, and it had a beautiful setting,” DeLoatche said. “Without ever even visiting the campus, I decided to apply. Coincidentally, many of my friends from northern Virginia ended up going to Radford as well.”
While at Radford University, the burgeoning public servant joined the Student Government Association and, like many students of that era, fell under the wing of Bonnie Hurlburt ’58.
“Dean of Students Bonnie Hurlburt was my advisor and was like a mom away from home,” explained DeLoatche. “She treated us with love, but tough love when we needed it. She made such an impact on so many of our lives.
“I am still close with her and with many of my classmates from that time,” she continued. “Dean Hurlburt is the one who bonded us together. And that is what Radford is about — family.”
Upon graduating from Radford University, DeLoatche made her inevitable journey back to Washington, D.C., working first as a legislative correspondent under former Sen. Dan Coats, of Indiana, before serving as health legislative assistant, legislative director and, ultimately, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis of Florida. It was during her work with Bilirakis that DeLoatche caught the attention of the chief of staff for Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. “I participated on a panel to discuss Medicare reform when I met Senator Hatch’s chief of staff,” she explains “I was then asked to interview for a health position with his staff.”
Serving as Senator Hatch’s lead health advisor for over a decade, DeLoatche counseled the senator on pending health bills, regulatory oversight, federal nominations and congressional investigations. She also worked on numerous health policy matters, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act, the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Medicare Modernization Act, as well as issues related to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
“I have been fortunate to work for top-notch members of Congress,” DeLoatche says. “Their jobs are hard and require numerous sacrifices.”
Even though she no longer works for members of Congress, it does not mean that she works with them any less. “I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill. In fact, I have had 11 meetings over two days within the last week,” DeLoatche explains.
While much of her schedule is devoted to her work on Capitol Hill, DeLoatche still makes time to give back. She and her certified therapy dog, Petie, perform weekly volunteer work with recreational therapist Nick Englund ’12 in the long-term rehabilitation unit at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia. DeLoatche also serves as chair of the Alumni Advisory Board for the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.
“I believe it is important for students and alumni to give back to the University,” she says.
Which is exactly what DeLoatche has been doing for the University, and the country, for over 30 years.
Climbing guide Eli Helmuth scales the heights of his profession
If you’re the adventurous type with an itch for a weeklong mountain expedition in Alaska, where elevations stretch to 20,000 feet and wind chills dip to -100 Fahrenheit, there’s a guide for that.
Perhaps you’re looking for something a little less challenging — and bone-chilling. Maybe you’d like scaling up and rappelling down smaller cliffs in the warm, tranquil environs of Puerto Rico, where high temperatures consistently settle in the mid-80s and island breezes comfort your every move. If that is more to your liking, there’s a guide for that, too.
His name is Eli Helmuth ’87, and he is one of the most experienced mountain guides in the world. For nearly 30 years, Helmuth has been taking people on adventures — rock climbing, skiing and hiking — all around our rocky, wet, warm, snowy planet, from the Himalayas to the Andes.
“I’ve taken people to some wild places,” said Helmuth, a specialist in high-altitude mountaineering who also trains others for careers as professional outdoor guides in such remote locations as Mount Everest and Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.
“I’ve done many trips on Denali, Mount McKinley, Alaska, and that’s one of the coldest places on the planet. It can be -40 Fahrenheit with 60 mph winds,” he said.
As the guide, Helmuth leads the expeditions, managing everything from where the travelers sleep to what they eat and carry on their backs.
“It’s highly risky, and unfortunately, many of my peers have perished over the years due to these hazards,” Helmuth said. “You see those lists about the most dangerous jobs in America, and those don’t compare to what we do. We’re way beyond those risks.”
A climber “needs a super-high-level of continual focus while hanging on the side of a cliff,” he explained. “You have to be 100 percent in the moment.
“And yeah, you should be scared. There’s always some fear and trepidation. And a high level of awareness. That helps keep us in one piece.”
Helmuth has been training mountain guides since 1999 for the American Mountain Guides Association and has been a lead trainer for the organization since 2001. “Training guides is a great responsibility and comes with some risks,” he said.
As a teacher, failure —“not the kind where bad things happen,” Helmuth said — can be a positive for anyone with a goal to climb to new heights, figuratively and literally.
“If you look up at a climb and it’s not scary, then maybe it’s not worth doing,” he said with a laugh, but he wasn’t joking. “Living in fear and not being paralyzed by it, and helping others figure out how they can manage the risks and still move forward and carry on with the goal, can be very satisfying.”
Helmuth said he trains people the way Gary Nussbaum trained him at Radford University.
Living in fear and not being paralyzed by it, and helping others figure out how they can manage the risks and still move forward and carry on with the goal, can be very satisfying."
“Everything I learned at Radford was appropriate for the job,” Helmuth said about his time studying with Nussbaum, a retired Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department chair and professor.
Helmuth “stumbled into” the outdoor education program at Radford University by “doing some adventurous rope work” to explore caves for bat research in a biology class. He was a walk-on lacrosse player and explored his newfound interest by studying with Nussbaum. After graduation, he moved “out West” in 1989 to work in California, Oregon and Washington. His career evolved from there.
Helmuth was one of the first people in the United States to earn a rock climbing guide certification, and in 2002, he earned an international license. “I’ve been able to work around the planet,” he said, “leading people on extraordinary mountain-climbing trips.”
Helmuth lived in Colorado for 18 years — he became an expert in avalanche training there — before moving to Puerto Rico in 2016 with his wife, a professional dancer, and their two children. On the island, they are shifting their business model to focus on eco-lodging “oriented to adventurous people like us,” Helmuth said, and “to where I’m not hanging off a cliff every day.”
Still, there are plenty of rocks for Helmuth to climb in Puerto Rico, and if you’re willing to take on the challenge, he is eager to be your guide.
“If you come to Puerto Rico, we’d definitely go to a cliff,” Helmuth said. “There’s one right around the corner from my house. I would look for climbs that I would perceive to be in your ability. We would climb to the top and see amazing views.”
If you feel scared … “Well, you probably should be,” he said with a laugh. “You’re about to climb up the side of a cliff.”
The risk, however, is low with Helmuth, one of the most experienced guides and trainers on Earth.
“What was so great about the training I received at Radford was I learned to provide a professional experience that is reassuring and that a person understands they are working with someone who knows what they are doing,” Helmuth said.
Establishing that trust, listening and asking questions and being sensitive to concerns, he said, helps make for positive and “super-rewarding experiences” every time up and down a cliff.
“There’s rarely a day at my work where folks don’t say, ‘Wow, that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done’ and ‘Because of you I felt really safe and assured,’” Helmuth said.
And best of all, “When can we do it again?”
Advertising maven Kim D’Aloise follows in grandfather’s footsteps
Lawrence D'Aloise Sr. made a career as a creative advertising executive in the “Mad Men” era of the 1960s, working at such prestigious New York City firms as J. Walter Thompson and Dancer, Fitzgerald and Sample on Madison Avenue.
He was a creative force, working on and developing numerous well-known campaigns. He was the brainchild of the simple yet memorable “Kodak Moments” advertising slogan.
Tales of working in the glamorous advertising environment regaled and inspired his granddaughter Kim D’Aloise ’97, who grew up just north of the Big Apple, to develop a strong desire to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps.
“I’ve wanted to work in marketing and advertising since I was in high school,” D’Aloise said. “He was my inspiration.”
After graduating from Radford University with a degree in media studies and concentration in advertising, D’Aloise worked with several top tier agencies.
“I started off in direct marketing and direct mail, back in the day. That evolved into public relations, promotions, branding and repositioning,” she said.
You probably know many of the brands D’Aloise has worked on. It’s an impressive and exhaustive list that includes Diageo, Snapple, ESPN the Magazine, American Express, Verizon, Beech-Nut Baby Food, Equinox, Reebok, Sallie Mae, SC Johnson, the NFL and a campaign for Acapulco, Mexico.
“Then I eventually got into digital,” she said.
These days, D’Aloise plies her advertising and marketing chops as a manager in digital marketing in the global marketing communications department at New York City- based Colgate-Palmolive.
Which means … “I wear a lot of different hats,” she said. “I’ve mainly been working on developing and driving digital marketing capability within the company, and a lot of that has to do with digital education and training.
I learned a lot in the classroom at Radford, but the hands-on experience was the most helpful. A lot of times you need to learn by doing, trial by fire."
“We make sure we’re developing people and arming them with the foundational knowledge to build and execute digital programs within marketing plans.”
Colgate-Palmolive is a worldwide consumer products company focused on the production and distribution of oral care, home care, pet and personal products, such as soaps, detergents and oral hygiene products.
Motivated by her grandfather’s inspiration, D’Aloise began building her portfolio at Radford University, particularly through her efforts on a senior independent study project. Working with a faculty member, she developed an advertising and branding campaign for the Radford Heritage Foundation.
“I learned a lot in the classroom at Radford, but the hands-on experience was the most helpful,” she said. “A lot of times you need to learn by doing, trial by fire.”
Now, deep into the fire of her career, D’Aloise continues to take on educational experiences. She was one of only 45 Colgate-Palmolive executives chosen to participate in the prestigious Stanford University Leadership Business Program. Colgate-Palmolive identifies some of its high-potential employees to send to the program, and last year, D’Aloise was selected.
“It was a week long, and it was a pretty intense schedule of classes with Stanford’s top professors,” D’Aloise explained. “There was a lot of teamwork, collaboration and innovative thinking with really engaging faculty and speakers.”
Her education and climb up the ladder of the advertising world were a source of tremendous pride for D’Aloise’s grandfather, who “ironically enough,” she said, also worked on the branding of Crest, a main competitor of Colgate.
“It makes me proud to follow in his path, and when he passed away a few years ago, he was proud I was working here,” she said, sitting in her New York office. “He knew that working in marketing and advertising was something I wanted to do since high school, and he was a major influence.”
For Levar Cole ’02, paying it forward began as he walked off the McConnell Lawn after graduation in 2002.
As he and George Mendiola ’00 reflected on their Radford University experiences, both felt the time was now to help those who would follow in their footsteps.
The Mendiola-Cole Leadership Scholarship is an example of philanthropy that began while the glow of accomplishment still burned bright. Cole and Mendiola immediately started making an annual investment in the endowed scholarship that bears their name.
“George said ‘Let’s do it. Help me do it,’” said Cole. “We reached out to as many people as we could and it happened faster than I thought.”
Cole, now an audit manager for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was heartened by the response.
“People I didn’t even know pitched in,” Cole said.
Both Cole and Mendiola were leaders at Radford University who benefited from scholarship support. Mendiola was Student Government Association (SGA) president, and Cole was executive vice president. The desire to give back to the campus by assisting students who contribute to Radford was one of many aspirations that united them.
The two SGA leaders worked their networks of friends and fellow alumni to get the scholarship established in 2003. In 2007, the Mendiola-Cole Leadership Scholarship reached endowment status and was first awarded in 2009.
The recipients of the Mendiola-Cole Leadership Scholarship meet its rigorous qualifications of a minimum 3.3 GPA for undergraduates or 3.7 GPA for graduates and demonstrated leadership abilities at Radford University through their participation in extracurricular activities that promote the welfare of all students.
Cole’s experience at the University was an eye-opener, he said.
“When I arrived at college, I wasn’t sure I would like it. There was something about Radford that made me like school. I got to choose what I studied and there were so many interesting options,” Cole said. “Some of the best classes I had were literature and writing classes. Who knew?”
Cole’s curiosity and drive motivated him to seize service opportunities off-campus as well. One day, he said, he witnessed a car accident. The fire department response intrigued him so much that he joined the Radford Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter.
I just want to help other Radford young people to recognize and enjoy the same experiences I did."
“There are so many opportunities to grow and serve,” Cole said. “I just want to help other Radford young people to recognize and enjoy the same experiences I did.”
To round out his undergraduate experience, Cole worked as a youth mentor with Beans and Rice, a community service organization, and participated in the honor societies for his chosen fields: Lambda Alpha Epsilon and the Pi Gamma Mu.
The thank-you letters he has received from the recipients of the Mendiola-Cole Leadership Scholarship keep Cole connected to his undergraduate days at Radford University.
“Man, we were just like them back then,” he said.
Much has changed, though, for Cole. He is the father of five and works in an intense field as a member of a team charged with overseeing nuclear reactor safety for the NRC’s Office of the Inspector General.
A common thread running through Cole’s life for the past 15 years has been his Radford University friends.
“I never expected to see so many Radford colleagues along the way,” Cole said. “Throughout my career, I have met new Radford friends and grown closer to many of those with whom I graduated.”
Radford University, the Mendiola-Cole Leadership Scholarship and its recipients, past and future, are beneficiaries of the connections that were kindled on campus and have grown with time.
“The time at Radford was great,” Cole said. “I feel good about young people going there. I can’t stress enough the value to me of the lifelong friendships I made at Radford.”
In retrospect, Cole said he is happy that he and Mendiola responded quickly to their urge to give back.
“The crazy thing is that as I look back, it was smart to do it right after school,” Cole said. “Now I am used to writing a check annually and asking friends to contribute.”
Radford University's graduates maintain a standard of civic service — and some have gone on to perform public service to their communities.
Virginia Del. Joseph Yost ’06, M.S. ’08 and Florida Rep. MaryLynn Magar ’85 are currently serving their communities as representatives in their respective state governments.
In 2011, when Yost won his election for the 12th District in Virginia, he became the youngest delegate in office and the youngest person in Virginia’s government since Thomas Jefferson.
A double graduate of Radford University, Yost used his Radford University education to launch his political career. He used the relationships built during his academic career, as well as interactions with people of all different ideologies, to shape his views.
“We had a close-knit community,” Yost said. “I think having those interactions and those little conversations throughout the day was the thing that shaped me the most and what I enjoyed the most. Everyone knows who you are and knows you by name.”
While at Radford University, Yost worked with Tod Burke, professor of criminal justice, to co-write articles for the FBI’s magazine.
“Having the interactions with people from all over the political spectrum and all over the area geographically, that certainly opened my eyes to different viewpoints and challenged my own views on things,” Yost said.
Yost found a political focus in a job at the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley. As part of his responsibilities, he traveled to Richmond to do presentations to members of the legislature.
“I think for me, at that point, and having interactions with lawmakers, there wasn’t really anybody who had a really heavy in-depth understanding of Virginia’s mental health system. I felt like we needed somebody on the other side of that presentation, listening, who had that interest,” he said.
Yost gained political experience through involvement in campaigns and by volunteering on campaigns. Jim Shuler, former delegate for the 12th District, announced his intent to retire in 2011, opening the door.
“I honestly never really saw myself being the individual who was on the ballot,” he said. “I was 24 at the time that we announced our run. I had a lot of energy and we decided to just go for it and see what happens. We knocked on about 20,000 doors from April through November. We worked hard and eventually won.”
With the victory, Yost became a representative for the entire district of more than 80,000 people.
“I work with everyone when elected,” Yost said. “When someone comes to the door, I don’t ask them whether they voted for me or about their political affiliations, because it doesn’t matter. That isn’t what I am here for. I am here to be their voice in our state government.”
Magar uses her Radford University education and work ethic to guide her as both a politician and a business owner in Florida.
“Radford gave me a great exposure to so many different organizations and people, which drew out my love of being busy and accomplishing things,” Magar said. “I enjoy meeting with constituents and solving their problems or hearing ideas on policy on how we can solve issues.”
After graduating from Radford University, Magar moved to Florida, where she worked with a telecommunications company before joining her husband at Heart Care Imaging, which sets up and manages nuclear imaging centers, usually for teaching hospitals. Magar always saw herself working in a business to solve problems and find new solutions, but eventually “got frustrated with government at all levels.”
“I knew a lot of the local elected officials. I was very friendly with them and helped them work on their campaigns. With a growing frustration, several of them encouraged me to run for a seat [in the state legislature],” she said.
Magar was first elected in 2012 and has since run for re-election — and won.
“I’ve had people that didn’t vote for me the first time I ran, but after they got to know me, they voted for me,” Magar said. “They saw I was willing to work on policy that was good for our community.”
Helping constituents is Magar’s favorite part of working in the state legislature.
“Whether it is individually with constituent help, connecting them to services that they might need, or helping an entire industry. I think that is why we do these things — to make a positive impact,” Magar said.
Another one of Magar’s priorities in the legislature is to grow the local university.
“We are trying to build a strong community with a strong education,” she said. “We have a passion for research and I feel like combining both university and businesses together, the collaboration of the two will only make for a better community.”
As the local university and community are strengthened, Magar hopes that students will take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
“You start in college when you start to become your own person, developing strong traits, values and principles. I encourage all students to look around and get to know yourself and find that determination and work ethic within yourself,” Magar said.
Later in life, Magar relied upon that work ethic and determination realized during college when she suffered a stroke, leaving her completely paralyzed on her right side. She spent several months in a rehab facility learning how to walk and talk again, as well as relearning daily functions.
“I felt like what got me through that, aside from prayer and faith, is having that work ethic and not giving up. I realized that there are things that I may not like to do, but I must do them. I made a full recovery, which my doctors — and everyone —think is amazing. I’ve even been skiing this past season with my former Radford roommate who now lives in Colorado.”
Alumna and Radford University students preserve history
Historical documents like this don’t come around that often,” says Sharon Roger Hepburn, Ph.D., professor of history and department chair, describing the cache of official papers that made a 300-year journey from a Botetourt County courthouse to a Radford University classroom.
"This was an opportunity that we had to take advantage of — we couldn’t just digitize the documents and send them back,” explains Roger Hepburn. “We needed to look at the collection as a whole and see exactly what is in there.”
What, exactly, was in there was over 500 pages of documents stretching from the colonial era through Reconstruction. A treasure trove containing, among other things, papers signed by a who’s who of American history. The signatures of future presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and Benjamin Harrison, Founding Father Patrick Henry, and Henry Lee, father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, were among the highlights.
“I was in the right spot at the right time,” says Pat Honts ’68, a researcher and genealogist in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office of Botetourt County. One late afternoon in March of 1995, Honts was cleaning out a metal filing cabinet at the Circuit Court in Fincastle while she waited for her husband, the late George Honts, who was serving as Circuit Court judge of both Botetourt and Rockbridge counties, to complete his judicial duties. A Circuit Court deputy who was assisting Honts with the clean up commented that she required a trash can, which instantly grabbed Honts’ attention.
“She said she found some moldy old papers in a manila envelope and didn’t want to touch them,” Honts explains. “I told her that I didn’t care if the papers were moldy or not, I wanted to take a look at them first!” Upon inspecting the envelope, Honts discovered numerous papers in varying stages of decomposition. The first paper she examined was folded, with a wax seal and ribbon still attached. The date on the paper read 1772, and it was signed by Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia.
All told, there were 37 documents dated from the 1770s through the 1790s in that one manila envelope. Within a few days of the discovery, George Honts contacted a records preservation company in Vermont to begin the restoration process for the papers. Each document was cleaned and treated, then placed in an acid-free sleeve to protect it from further damage. “Then, a shipping company almost lost the documents after we had sent them off for the preservation treatment,” Honts says.
The documents finally made their way back to Botetourt County, where they were placed into albums, nicknamed “Pat’s albums,” and stored within the Circuit Court’s vault at the Circuit Courthouse. The large historical find in the small Virginia town made national news, with numerous newspapers requesting to see what had been saved from the trash heap. “News of what we had found even ended up on Paul Harvey’s national radio broadcast,” says Honts.
Eventually, however, the excitement over the documents faded, and the find was — like the papers themselves — largely forgotten. Forgotten by everyone, except Pat Honts.
“There was no back-up for the documents,” explains Honts. “The courthouse had already suffered one fire, and I would wake up some nights in a cold sweat for fear of what would happen if they suffered another one.
“I wanted to preserve our history,” she continues.
Honts invited members of the Radford University staff, among them Sharon Roger Hepburn, to the courthouse to see the documents. “I invited Sharon up here to see the documents, and she was floored by the contents,” explains Honts. “I worked for a number of years to get someone to take a look at what we had, and once they did, everything started moving quickly.”
“I initially found out about the documents in the fall of 2015,” says Roger Hepburn, “and it snowballed into something I could never have expected.” Immediately seeing the historical — as well as academic — value of the documents, Roger Hepburn helped begin the process to ensure the documents would not be lost to history again.
“The initial priority was to have the documents copied and digitized,” Roger Hepburn explains. “Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, Katherine Hawkins, was integral in procuring funds for a state-of-theart scanner, and David Atkins ’12 worked to digitize and scan over 500 pages of documents.”
As the digitization process was ongoing, Roger Hepburn began to think of ways that she could integrate the documents into her curriculum..
“I had been thinking about a course involving digital documents, but I didn’t think this would be how it started,” she says. In the fall of 2016, Roger Hepburn began teaching the course HIST 392 Digital Archives.
In the course, students received their own set of digital documents from which they created a portfolio. They transcribed the documents, wrote succinct descriptive summaries, included research notes regarding people referenced, and created phrasing and keywords to be used in future searches. “For our students, this is an opportunity that they normally wouldn’t have — true historical research,” says Roger Hepburn. “This is hands-on work in their discipline.”
Ultimately, each entry in the portfolio contains a digital picture of document, transcription, author, subject matter and details behind the subject matter. “I want the students to learn that it is not just about what the documents say, but what do they mean,” Roger Hepburn explains.
Roger Hepburn’s five students ended up working on 50 different documents during the course, transcribing and researching over 200 pages for their portfolios. By performing a literal transcription of the documents, students receive hands-on experience with historical documents, their handwriting and their language. “They are dealing with the primary sources of history,” Roger Hepburn says.
Those sources include membership lists of Civil War regiments, slave inventories, genealogical records, land surveys, Civil War letters, court appointments, a divorce and wills — even a register of free blacks. “These documents give voices to those people who, historically, had none,” she explains. “Without documents such as these, they would have been lost to history.”
Because of the success of the first offering, Roger Hepburn made sure to include HIST 392 on the spring 2017 class register. “The students who took the original course were adamant that it be offered again,” Roger Hepburn says.
“There are documents we still have not gotten to, including the Free Black Register,” she continues. “Eventually I would love to offer a digital history program and make this part of its curriculum.”
In the meantime, Roger Hepburn is setting her sights on another goal, one that takes the project back to its source. “I am currently working on putting the entire collection together for the Botetourt Courthouse,” she says. “I want them to have a full portfolio that is accessible at the courthouse.”
Roger Hepburn continues, “This has been a rewarding experience for all involved. The new College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences building’s technology has made the process that much better. We are able to utilize the large monitors available to us by blowing up the documents in the classroom as well as the breakout rooms.”
Honts could not agree more. “Radford University’s involvement was very fortuitous, as the funding for digitization was just not there for us,” she says.
“My husband always said that if it didn’t go through the courts, it didn’t happen,” Honts continues. “These documents prove that.”