RU celebrates Winter Commencement

President Kyle shakes hands with Keanu Kahakuokeikai Aliimuiomanulani Lee. Lee is a graduate in Exercise, Sport and Health Education from Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The end of an exciting fall 2015 semester culminated last week as Radford University honored close to 560 students for completing their academic degrees.

On Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, President Penelope W. Kyle conferred degrees upon undergraduate and graduate students during three separate Winter Commencement ceremonies.

“In the life of the University, this is one of the most important and joyous days. Let us recognize the Radford University Winter Class of 2015,” said President Kyle to thunderous applause from a standing-room-only crowd in Preston Auditorium on Dec. 19. “I am confident that you will do well and will make many contributions to your communities and our world.”

Among those newly-minted Radford alumni was Jade Hutton, an English major and the latest in a line of Radford graduates that includes her grandmother and both of her parents.

“Today is eye-opening. I realize I am an adult now,” Hutton said. “I found a career, friends and a new bond with my family here.”

Deryk Jackson, a sociology major from Virginia Beach, talked about his experience.

“Radford has totally changed who I am,” Jackson said. “I came in as a freshman and was kind of shy. Now I feel like I have leadership experience, skills and confidence.” 

For Skye Heasley, a sociology major from Ashtabula, Ohio, the ceremonies were a family reunion as she was joined by more than 20 friends and family from Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.

“I have made life-long connections here with students, faculty and staff for which I am thankful,” said Heasley, who said the best place to experience Radford is “the front row.”  

Heasley was bittersweet about the transition marked by the commencement ceremony. 

“Some of the best and most exciting times of my life are closing today,” she said. “I have learned here, had leadership experiences, made friends and connections and done so much to grow up.”

Skye’s mother, Jennifer Swaine, offered a unique reflection on how much her daughter had grown.

“As Skye stepped up on the stage, I thought back to her first day of kindergarten. My heart couldn’t feel fuller,” Swaine said.

Aaron Clem, a criminal justice major from Fairfax, was the last of three siblings to graduate from Radford. Joining the family alumni chapter is an accomplishment he cherishes.

“It has been a struggle, but I am here. The work was worth it for my future. I am more confident about finding a good job,” said Clem as he prepared for the ceremony and the subsequent celebration of more than 20 family and friends in cabins the family rented at Claytor Lake.


Education and Human Development graduates Stephany Campo Perez, Mallory Helton, Professor Carol Bland and Taylor Pahno together before the start of Saturday morning's ceremony.

Winter Commencement activities began Dec. 18 with the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) Army Commissioning ceremony.  Cody Sullivan, a criminal justice major, earned the rank of second lieutenant and was granted authority by the United States Army to carry out duties as a newly-commissioned officer.

That afternoon, the School of Nursing and the Department of Occupational Therapy each held pinning ceremonies for their newest graduates. Forty-one Bachelor of Science in Nursing and two RN-to-BSN students were pinned. President Penelope W. Kyle offered remarks at the OT pinning at which 19 Master of Occupational Therapy graduates were recognized.

“The OT program and our faculty elevated the profile of Radford University and set the stage for the future of what graduate programs would be here," President Kyle said.

On Friday night, the university conferred master's and doctorate degrees at the College of Graduate and Professional Studies Graduation and Hooding Ceremony.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Scartelli offered remarks, encouraging graduates to not only seek a fulfilling career but to also become examples of civility and citizenship in a complex and changing world.

The College of Graduate Studies and Research awarded the following degrees: Doctor of Nursing Practice (5); Doctor of Psychology (4); Master of Science (18); Master of Occupational Therapy (19); Master of Social Work (5); and Master of Business Administration (4).In total, Radford University conferred 476 undergraduate degrees and 82 graduate degrees:

  • College of Business and Economics: 79 undergraduate, six graduate
  • College of Education and Human Development: 79 undergraduate, 25 graduate
  • College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences: 186 undergraduate, 11 graduate
  • Waldron College of Health and Human Sciences: 48 undergraduate, 39 graduate
  • College of Science and Technology: 57 undergraduate
  • College of Visual and Performing Arts: 35 undergraduate, one graduate

Dec 21, 2015