Excitement and energy mark New Student Convocations in Roanoke and Radford
The newest members of the Highlander family were welcomed to the start of the 2019-20 academic year during two separate Convocations for the inaugural class of Radford University Carilion (RUC) in Roanoke and new students on the University’s main campus in Radford.
On Aug. 23, 2019, Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., addressed the first class of RUC students at the New Student Convocation and Orientation held at the Berglund Center.
All new and returning students, as well as their families, were invited to attend the event. Approximately 312 attended, including 279 new students and 33 returning students.
“As the first class of Highlanders at RUC, I will say to each of you that we are making history, and you will continue to do that as we move on past this point,” President Hemphill said. “The greatest honor is sharing this incredible journey with each of you. I will forever share a special connection with each of you as you represent a new era within our institution and this community.”
Hemphill was joined on stage by Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Hill, Vice President for Enrollment Management Kitty McCarthy and President and Chief Executive Officer of Carilion Clinic Nancy Howell Agee.
“You’ve demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment and hard work just to be here today. And, because of that level of determination, you can call yourself Highlanders,” President Hemphill said. “I promise each of you this: this Radford family will help you grow, learn and succeed. We will challenge you. We will encourage you. And most importantly, we believe in each of you.”
President Hemphill concluded by challenging the RUC students to find their niche within the Radford community and in the Star City.
“My colleagues and I at both Radford University and Carilion Clinic are dedicated to providing you with a world-class experience,” he said.
Agee told students that they had made one of the best decisions of their lives by choosing a career in healthcare.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t remember who I am, and at my core, I am a nurse,” Agee said. “Every decision I make goes back to that core and that magic moment between the caregiver and the patient.”
As Carilion's top administrator and visionary leader, Agee leads approximately 13,500 employees in hospitals, clinics and other settings across Southwest Virginia.
“You are a part of our Carilion family. You are a part of our Radford family. And, you are the heart of Radford University Carilion,” Agee continued. “You are entering a healthcare career. There’s nothing like it anywhere else. The most important thing I can tell you is to always put your patients first. If you put your patients first, you won’t go wrong. That is our guiding light.”
On the evening of Aug. 25, approximately 1,400 freshman and transfer students gathered on the lawn in front of McConnell Library. They were also welcomed by President Hemphill, along with Director of New Student and Family Programs Joel Hanlon, Faculty Senate President Jake Fox and Radford City Mayor and Assistant to the Dean of the Artis College of Science and Technology David Horton.
In a moving personal testimony, Abby Segrest, a senior marketing major, shared her Radford University journey and offered advice to new students.
“During the first few days of my freshman year, I started questioning everything. I felt overwhelmed,” Segrest said. “I talked with my resident advisor (RA) and roommate, and they supported and pushed me through the hard times.”
Segrest is now in her third year as an RA and has enjoyed gaining that same trust and understanding with residents as she once did.
“I never realized my growth and persistence until I came to college,” she told students. “You will find that here, too.”
Segrest encouraged her peers to be proactive and persistent in academics and community service; to continue moving forward; to be their authentic self; and to cherish their journey at Radford University.
“We are all Highlanders, and you should take pride in that,” she said. “Take a deep breath. We are all here for you.”
Fox spoke of Radford University’s talented and eccentric faculty, who are not only dedicated to their disciplines and research, “but, most importantly, to your success and well-being,” Fox told new students.
“Your success is our success,” Fox said. “Look after yourselves, and look after each other.”
Following Convocation, students participated in the traditional class photo near the campus fountain, forming a gigantic “2023.” Afterward, they enjoyed a cookout and shared their excitement and enthusiasm for the first day of classes on Aug. 26.
DeAngelo Nichols, of Roanoke, said he was looking forward to participating in “as many extracurricular activities as I possibly can.”
“During Highlander Day, I learned about the Association of Black Professionals group and the University’s chapter of the NAACP,” Nichols said. “I want to have fun inside and outside of the classroom and take advantage of the opportunities that Radford University offer.”
Nichols said he chose to attend Radford University because of its “friendly vibe.”
“It felt like a really welcoming environment,” he said. “I got some great scholarships, and I’m excited to either study political science or philosophy.”
Nichols is a participant in the “3+3 program,” a dual-degree program in collaboration with the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University that helps Radford University students expedite their law school education.
To now be a part of the Highlander family, Nichols said, “It feels great. It feels like home.”
New Student Convocation is just one of the many ways the Radford family welcomes and connects with the newest Highlanders. Special events are planned throughout the entire first week of classes, culminating with Club Fair on Aug. 30 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Moffett Lawn.
See all the excitement both Radford and Roanoke had from convocation to the first week of classes and all of the welcome back events hosted just for the Radford family.