Winter commencement ceremonies bring Radford family together
Almost 600 students and their families joined the Radford family to celebrate academic success at Radford University’s 2018 Winter Commencement ceremonies.
“Your Radford education developed your ability to listen with a critical ear and think with an open mind. Your Radford experience has prepared you for a life of service, not only to your family and community, but to those in need,” President Brian O. Hemphill said after he conferred degrees upon the more than 500 undergraduate students and 60 graduate students from across Virginia and the world on Dec. 14-15.
“I am confident that you will take your Radford values with you on your journey ahead,” Hemphill added as he challenged the Winter Class of 2018 to make education a lifelong pursuit while making great discoveries and improving society.
After offering congratulations on behalf of Radford’s faculty, Anthropology Professor and Faculty Senate President Jake Fox said, “It is our greatest hope that no matter how varied your futures might be, each of you will take from your Radford experience something of tremendous value: the skills to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers. These are the fruits of higher education in the broadest sense.”
While waiting for the Dec. 15 ceremony to begin, Traci Vest, an elementary education major from Floyd, Virginia, reflected on the impact and value of her Radford experience on her family.
“I have set a new standard for my children,” said Vest, a first-generation college graduate and the mother of three who spent the last few years doing her own homework while her children did theirs. “College is a now the standard for them, not a choice.”
Sofia Martinez, a psychology major from Roanoke, Virginia, by way of Australia, returned to college after a nursing career.
“Radford made it flow, from admission to counseling and in the classroom. It was a seamless transition for me,” she said. “For the first time in school, I felt saturated. I made connections and worked on projects and am looking forward to graduate school or whatever comes next.”
On Dec. 14, Radford University hosted three ceremonies at which its graduate students donned hoods and Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) candidates and nursing students donned pins to join their professions.
At the College of Graduate Studies and Research's Commencement and Hooding Ceremony, 60 graduates wore for the first time the academic regalia signifying advanced academic achievement.
Among the graduate degrees conferred were from disciplines such as occupational therapy, special education, social work, education and psychology.
Interim Dean Laura Jacobsen framed the evening, saying: “Graduates, tonight we celebrate you, our future leaders, our scholars, our pioneers, our advisors and our collaborators. We celebrate you, our dreamers and our doers.”
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kenna Colley complimented the graduate students’ work ethic.
“I remain amazed at the drive, the dedication, the motivation and the inspiration of our students. This preparation and resilience will serve you well in your professions while you are serving others. You have developed grit, knowledge, skills and dispositions that have truly made you into a leader in your field,” Colley said.
Karla Armbrister was one of eight graduate candidates to receive a master’s degree in special education. Armbrister received her undergraduate degree from Radford in 2000, and She was excited to return and continue her education at Radford.
“The professors have all been great. Although I’m not going to miss the work, I’m definitely going to miss communicating with the faculty,” Armbrister said.
Brad Schassberger, Sarah Vaught and Christopher Parker beamed as they reflected upon their past three years as Master’s of Social Work (MSW) students.
“We’ve shared this experience together,” Vaught said. “It’s been difficult, juggling school, full-time jobs, families and pets. But we did it and we’re very proud of each other.”
Twenty MOT students proudly joined their profession at a Dec. 14 pinning ceremony. Among the MOT class of 2018 graduates were identical twins: Katelyn Carty and Lauren Lee of Suffolk, Virginia. Together, they completed the two-and-a-half-year program that requires 83 credit hours and extensive clinical experiences.
Hannah Brooks ’16 – and now MOT ’18 – of Chilhowie, Virginia, said her entire experience at Radford was a challenging stepping stone toward her goal of working in an acute care hospital with clients recovering their abilities to live independent and meaningful lives.
“I will miss Radford, my colleagues in the MOT cohort and the faculty, but this is the beginning of a new journey for me,” Brooks said.
Optimism marked the ceremony during which 43 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the Radford School of Nursing (SON) cohort at the Roanoke Higher Education Center and Registered Nursing-to-BSN students were pinned by family or professional mentors.
The students joined SON faculty to take their Nightingale Oath and officially join the nursing profession. The SON also recognized the Class of 2018 award winners:
- Logan Kantsios: Kitty Parker Smith Leadership Award
- Aubrey Kessner: Janet Hardy Boettcher Nursing Excellence Award
- Kate Gragun: Marcella J. Griggs Excellence in Geriatric Nursing Award
- Briana Graham: Janice S. Mooney Excellence in Pediatrics Award
- Luzmila Via: Mildred A. Hopkins RN Excellence in Nursing Award
Samantha Chase ’14, now a nurse in UVA’s medical ICU, shared reflections on her nursing career as guest speaker.
“I’m proud to be a nurse and I’ll tell you why I’m passionate about nursing. I feel like that’s where I found myself. I learned that is as simple as a touch or a smile or just listening and you are going to touch lives and they’re going to touch yours. I promise you that,” Chase said.