RU celebrates Winter 2014 commencement


Charlee Nicole Saul, a senior music major, sings the National Anthem

Semesters full of studies, exams, labs, practicums, research and hard work came to a celebratory conclusion on Dec. 13 for more than 300 Radford University students.

Proud family members, capturing the moment with cameras and smart phones, were among the audience of a packed Bondurant Auditorium to honor the newest RU graduates during the 2014 Winter Commencement.

At two separate undergraduate ceremonies, President Penelope W. Kyle conferred a total of 394 degrees: 297 Bachelor of Science degrees, 71 Bachelor of Business Administration degrees, 10 Bachelor of Arts degrees, eight Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, seven Bachelor of Music degrees and one Bachelor of Social Work degree.


Board of Visitors Rector Michael A. Wray, left, with President Penelope Kyle

Among the RU faculty and administrators on stage to honor the graduates at the graduate hooding and both commencement ceremonies was RU Board of Visitors Rector Michael Wray.

President Kyle praised students on their commitment and dedication to their educations.

"I am confident you will do well because of the educational opportunities and experiences that you had while you were here with us at Radford," Kyle said. "You will make positive contributions to our communities and to our nation in so many diverse and exciting ways. I encourage you to go forth with confidence today and to always demonstrate your Highlander pride."

She also offered a tribute to the many people who supported students throughout their academic journey.

"Standing with you along the way were your families, friends and Radford's dedicated faculty and staff, all of whom helped you succeed and realize your dreams," Kyle said.


Anna Phiri

President Kyle also took a moment to recognize the many students graduating cum laude, summa cum laude, magna cum laude and with distinction. Among the distinguished graduates was political science major Anna Phiri, the second-only student to graduate RU as a Scholar-Citizen. Students who achieve this status complete rigorous course work in addition to participating in required co-curricular activities.

"I have had incredible teachers to guide me to help me think about my society and how I can make a change, and that's how being a Scholar-Citizen influenced me," said Phiri, a native of Zimbabwe.

Faculty Senate President Jerry Kopf and Student Government Association President Colby Bender also addressed the audience.

Kopf challenged the graduates to use the knowledge they gained at Radford to impact the future.

"Create the kind of world you want to live in and that you want to leave your children and grandchildren," Kopf said.

Bender, a junior political science major of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, asked students to reflect on the memories that shaped their RU experience.

"Never forget the experiences that made you who you are today," Bender said. "You will always be Highlanders."

In true Highlander tradition, the recently revived Radford University Highlanders Pipes and Drums, directed by RU Director of Music Business Timothy Channell, performed during the ceremonies' processional and recessional rituals. The stirring sounds of bagpipes and drums filled the auditorium and were a warmly-welcomed addition to the events.

"I think it's important for students to connect the future with the past, and I think it's wonderful that we can bring this tradition back to Radford," Channell said.

The band reformed this semester after disbanding in the late-1980s.

"It feels great to bring the band back," said student Jake Moles.

Moles, of Roanoke, got involved with the seven-member group because he has Scottish heritage and has always been fascinated by bagpipes, he said.

As the band exited the auditorium, it was followed by a long line of ecstatic graduates ready to continue the celebration.


RU Highlanders Pipes and Drums

Kerin Flattery, the mother of graduate Braden Wallace, said moments before the ceremony that she is proud of all Braden, a communications major, has accomplished during his time at RU.

"I wrote in his graduation card today that this is really a time to reflect on all the hard work it has taken to get you to this point," Flattery said. "He has grown into such an impressive young man. He's been through some ups and downs, but we're really proud of where he's landed and how much he's grown."

Also among the graduates was Elizabeth Brandwein, a business management major from Virginia Beach.

Brandwein, who completed her degree in three and a half years, is moving from the classroom straight into a position with management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. She starts in January.

Brandwein credits her RU education and College of Business and Economics (COBE) faculty for the opportunities she has been provided.

"The professors who I have met along my college career have truly inspired and molded me to be who I am today," Brandwein said. "I cannot imagine getting an education from anywhere else."

Graduate Brian Mucklow also has a job lined up after he leaves Radford. The Yorktown native double majored in business management and computer information systems and will move to Hampton Roads at the beginning of the year to start an inside sales position.

"It's surreal to be here today," Mucklow said.

Mucklow's friend Erin Pittman, also of Yorktown, joined him in the excitement. The pair graduated high school together, and on Dec. 13, they graduated college side by side.

Pittman majored in management, and her dream is to eventually own a restaurant, she said. Because of her RU education, she is one step closer to making that dream a reality.

"Radford has definitely prepared me for the future," Pittman said.


On Dec. 12, commencement events kicked off when RU's Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) commissioned cadets Ashley Ross and Timothy Vaught as U.S. Army officers in a morning ceremony in the Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

Ross, of Blacksburg, and Vaught, of Croaker, each earned the rank of second lieutenant, and were granted authority by the United States Army to carry out their duties as newly commissioned officers.

That afternoon, the School of Nursing and the Department of Occupational Therapy each held pinning ceremonies for their newest graduates. Twenty-seven Bachelor of Science in Nursing and 23 Master of Occupational Therapy graduates were recognized.

The university also conferred master's and doctorate degrees at the College of Graduate and Professional Studies Graduation and Hooding Ceremony on Dec. 12.

Graduate degrees awarded included four Doctor of Nursing Practice, 46 Masters of Science, 23 Masters of Occupational Therapy, three Masters of Arts, three Masters of Fine Arts and nine Masters of Business Administration.

Dec 14, 2014