Hemphills invite entire freshmen class to inaugural cookout

Students enjoyed grilled hot dogs and hamburgers at the Freshmen Cookout, hosted by the Hemphills.
Students enjoyed grilled hot dogs and hamburgers at the Freshmen Cookout, hosted by the Hemphills.

Radford University’s nearly 1,900 freshmen received a personal invitation to President Brian O. Hemphill and First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill’s home for a cookout on Sept. 8.

Students were greeted on the grounds of the Governor Tyler House – the university president’s official residence – by the Hemphills and their twins, Cruz and Catalina. The students enjoyed grilled treats, lawn games and spending time with the Hemphills and peers.

“It was so nice of the president to meet us at the gate,” said Erica Fitch of Baltimore as she enjoyed a plate of food with friends. “It feels like a very welcoming environment here. You’d never expect to be invited to the president’s house, especially in college.”

Patricia Lee of Clifton Forge said she was “shocked” when she saw the cookout invitation in her email inbox.

“I thought, ‘Is this real?’, and if it was, I wasn’t going to miss it,” Lee said.

Several Student Government Association (SGA) members also attended the cookout to meet and greet the freshmen.

“I think it’s amazing that the Hemphills are doing this,” said Cerra Ebbecke, SGA secretary of Highlander Pride. “It makes Radford University feel like a family.”

SGA President Julianna Stanley said she was excited to meet new students and possibly recruit them to join the organization.

Freshmen Cookout 2017
Students enjoyed grilled treats, lawn games and visiting with the Hemphills and their friends.
The cookout was a great opportunity for students to meet new friends and learn about the university's many student clubs and organizations, including the SGA.

The outdoor event marked the end of the first two weeks of the fall semester, a major milestone for many students as they reflected on the start of their Radford University journey.

“It’s been a really great experience so far,” said Madison Brown of Wytheville. “It’s definitely different from high school.”

Brown is an honors student and lives in Floyd Hall, which is designated for honors program housing.

“It’s very quiet, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people there,” Brown said.

Lee, a biology major who aspires to be a pediatric oncologist, said classes had been great and her professors were very nice and knowledgeable.

She and her cookout companion, Caleb Close of Salem, attended the university’s annual Club Fair the day before at which they explored their extracurricular interests. Both students plan to join intramural sports teams.

Brody Dawson of Bluefield, Virginia, said he has appreciated the campuswide hospitality, including a warm welcome from the Hemphills.

“Everybody holds the door for you,” he said. “It’s like you’re away from home, but you’re building a new home here.”

Chrysteyahna Wallace of Hampton, an interior design major, said she was impressed by the Governor Tyler House and her own place of residence for the 2017-18 academic year: Draper Hall.

“I love my roommate and meeting new friends,” Wallace said.

Sep 13, 2017
Mary Hardbarger
(540) 831-5150