RU and The Buried Life welcome new freshman to campus

Dancer and new RU student  Mark shows his stuff on the stage of Bondurant Auditorium

Dancer and new RU student Mark shows his stuff on the stage of Bondurant Auditorium.

Radford University’s Class of 2017 has arrived on campus and they kicked things off with a bang at this year’s Freshmen Convocation.

Many of the more than 2,000 members of the freshman class – one of the largest ever at RU – made their way to Bondurant Auditorium to hear a welcome from administration and enjoy the funny, inspiring stories of the documentary filmmakers from "The Buried Life."

Radford President Penelope W.  Kyle shared with the assembled students some statistics about their class:

  • Ninety-three percent of the incoming freshmen come from Virginia
  • States with the highest representation include Maryland (30), North Carolina (12), New Jersey (11) and New York (11)
  • Fifty-seven percent of the class are female and forty-three percent are male

New Highlanders from countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Saudi Arabia and China were also in attendance.

"Welcome to all new Highlanders at RU," President Kyle said at the end of her remarks, before ushering the night’s highly-anticipated guests, Ben Nemtin and Duncan Penn of The Buried Life, onstage. "Good luck and let’s get on with the show!"

The Buried Life began in Victoria, B.C., Canada when Nemtin, Penn, Penn’s brother Jonnie and friend Dave Lingwood borrowed an RV, bought a camera on eBay, threw a party to raise money for gas and hit the road for two weeks one summer before returning to university. Their mission was to cross items off a bucket list and help strangers they met do the same.

Duncan Penn and Ben Nemtin of The Buried Life speak to RU's incoming freshman

Duncan Penn (left) and Ben Nemtin (right) of "The Buried Life" tell RU's incoming freshman the inspiring stories they have encountered around North America.

Eventually the men signed a production deal with MTV, allowing them to document future trips as a television show.

After sharing stories that ranged from hilarious to inspirational, such as their attempts to ride bulls or their role in reuniting a father with the son he hadn’t seen in 17 years, Nemtin and Penn encouraged Radford’s new freshmen to embrace their opportunities, learn from mistakes  and pursue their own dreams.  After their presentation, they asked the attendees their signature question: "What do you want to do before you die?"

A new Highlander named Mark shared his dream of performing with his heroes, French dancers and choreographers Les Twins. After telling Nemtin and Penn about his dancing, the duo invited Mark on stage to perform for the assembled students, to riotous applause.

Another student, Liz, had the chance to make her dream come true when she told Penn that she harbored a crush on him and asked for a kiss. Penn invited her onstage and chastely obliged.

The Freshman Convocation is part of RU’s Welcome Week, which continues through Saturday with events including Club Fair on Friday, movies and free refreshments each day.

Learn more about Radford University at

Aug 27, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749