Student leadership recognized at reception
Last semester, students Rolphine Vales and Micheley St. Louis sought to share their Haitian culture with the Radford University community.
What resulted was CaribSO, the university's first Caribbean Student Organization. Its members recently sponsored a grand Karnaval, one of the group's proudest achievements thus far, Vales said.
"It makes a big difference," Vales said of the group's efforts. "Now we [CaribSO] will be here in the future for other students to participate."
Vales and St. Louis were honored along with more than 90 other student leaders on April 21 at the Student Leaders Reception, hosted by President Penelope W. Kyle.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Student Activities Kenneth Bonk said attendees - who represented Radford University's more than 150 students clubs and organizations – were some of the most active in programming and event planning. They were nominated by their peers and advisors to attend.
"It takes our students to create this engaging environment," Bonk said. "By creating this atmosphere, students really feel like Radford University is theirs."
At the reception, students were greeted by and talked with President Kyle, Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Shanley, Dean of Students Irvin Clark and Bonk. They explored the grounds of the historic Governor Tyler House - which now serves as the new official home of the Radford University president - enjoyed a spread of food and chatted with fellow club members.
Senior Annie Lassiter is the director of R-Space's (Radford Student Programing and Campus Events) educational and multicultural events. Lassiter is scheduled to graduate in May, and she reflected on what she has gained from her involvement.
"I've met a lot of great people here," said Lassiter, smiling at her successor Claudia Perez-Caceres. "I really wanted to leave my mark. I wanted to be a student leader. Students look up to those people."
Students also learn a lot about the real world when they immerse themselves in student leadership, Lassiter said.
Senior Michael Dada, president of the MBA Student Association, said his organization helps students sharpen their resumes and public speaking skills. Members also take trips to companies so they can explore employment opportunities.
"It's given me a lot of responsibility, and it makes you grow up very quickly," Dada said.
The real world will be waiting for Dada when he, too, graduates next month. He has landed a job at Deloitte Consulting as a risks analytics consultant.
Justin Kline, Maddie Cindrich and Zach Goodman attended the event on behalf of the Improv Club. The group recently brought the world-famous Upright Citizens Brigade to campus.
"It took a lot of hard work," said Cindrich, recalling months of fundraising, planning and advertising.
"We're really proud," said Kline, a theater major. "I really feel like this work and this club has made me a more well-rounded individual."
Involvement not only prepares students for life beyond college, it keeps them on track to graduate.
Research reveals that student involvement in clubs and organizations, leadership activities and other aspects of campus life is positively correlated with retention and academic success.
Senior Amy Kinkler came to Radford University on a field hockey scholarship. After the Division 1 program was eliminated as part of a realignment of Division 1 athletic program offerings, Kinkler said she didn't know if she was going to stay enrolled – until she became involved.
"I got an internship with alumni relations, and it completely opened my mind and gave me a different perspective," Kinkler said.
Kinkler attended the Student Leaders Reception with a resume full of involvement experience – Ambassadors Club, Advocacy Day participant, intramural softball, Tri Sigma, just to name a few.
"I've learned so much about our school and what our students are all about," Kinkler said. "I'm definitely going to be giving back to Radford after I graduate."
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