Alumni honored for their dedication, service and achievement
Shortly after the 2019 State of the University Address, Radford University alumni gathered in the Davis College of Business and Economics for a lunch celebrating the tireless work of the alumni volunteers and their on-going efforts to grow the Radford family.
For alumna Faith Rising ’15, returning to campus was a longer journey than most – she lives in Spain and works for Deloitte España.
“I just love campus in the fall,” Rising said. “It’s so pretty. I’m so excited to be back on campus and see how it has grown since I graduated.”
Rising has an important role within the Radford family – she serves as the primary point of contact for Highlanders visiting Spain.
For Sherry Fisher ’85, a speech communication major, visiting campus is a chance for her to reminisce about memories created, while she was on-campus. As a student, Fisher worked with WVRU, the student-run campus radio station, giving her valuable experiences to take with her into the workforce.
Living in Northern Virginia allows Fisher to meet with potential Highlanders and tell stories about campus, which helps them envision becoming a Highlander and how they can maximize on their on-campus experience.
During the 2019 Alumni Volunteer Leadership Business Lunch and Awards Ceremony, four Radford University alumni were honored for their career achievements, philanthropy and professional contributions.
“We recognize our outstanding alumni throughout the Commonwealth, the nation and beyond,” said Laura Turk ’87, M.S. ’90. “They have a significant impact on their communities and their professions, while being powerful role models for Highlanders everywhere.”
The Outstanding Alumnus Award was presented to Robert P. Brager ’89; the Outstanding Service Award was presented to Marquett B. Smith ’85; the Young Alumnus Merit Award was presented to Tommy L. Morgan ’16; and the Outstanding Alumni Philanthropist Award was presented to Peter D. Campbell ’92.
The Outstanding Alumnus Award recognizes a graduate who has made remarkable contributions to society through his or her profession. This award has been presented to distinguished alumni since 1965.
During Brager’s 27-year career in law enforcement, he served in a variety of regions and capacities, including the Roanoke Police Department and the New York Police Department. He has worked with thousands of individuals, including during the first response to the 9/11 attacks. Brager also received the Medal of Valor award, the NYPD’s highest award, for work above and beyond the call of duty with full knowledge of risk involved. During a hostage stand-off, Brager moved an IED that was aimed directly at his team.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. It is the first time I’ve been back to campus since just a few years after I graduated,” Brager said.
Brager transferred to Radford University from his home in New York, and one thing he immediately noticed on Radford’s campus was the sense of community.
“I was welcomed with open arms,” Brager said. “Everything that Radford did for me, it helped make me the person I am today. It made me want to help people and want to do the right thing. What is doing the right thing? It’s what you do when people aren’t watching.”
The Outstanding Service Award, which was introduced in 1980, recognizes a graduate who has made exceptional contributions to furthering the mission of the University and has demonstrated how an alumnus can continue to support their community and Radford University through their time, talent and resources.
Smith, a graduate of the Davis College of Business and Economics, worked with Verizon Wireless and currently works as the advising partner for Wireless Insiders Network, a wireless consulting firm. Smith’s wife Rhonda accepted the award on Smith’s behalf. The Smiths established the endowed fund CARE, the Cassidy Achievement Resource and Equality Fund, as a way to honor their daughter, a recent Radford University graduate. The fund assists students from diverse ethnic backgrounds who exhibit a need for immediate funds so they can complete their education.
“I could not have achieved any of this alone,” Smith wrote in prepared remarks delivered by his wife. “Yes, I worked hard, but there was also support provided to me by loved ones and people I encountered along the journey. For me, Radford University played a major role in my progress through life. Radford laid the foundation for my success.”
The Young Alumnus Merit Award, which was established in 1994, is given to an alumnus 35-or-under who has made significant career achievements and has been actively involved in Radford University programs or civic and volunteer activities.
Morgan excelled inside and outside of the classroom at Radford University, and his success has continued after graduation. He currently serves as the Public Relations Manager for Avalara, a technology-focused company on business process, e-commerce and tax solutions, translating that complex content into everyday language.
“I owe all of my success to what I learned at Radford University and the connections I made here,” Morgan said. “The beauty of Radford is that it is big enough to give you the world, but small enough to help you find your place in it. I knew, when I came here in 2012, that it was something I needed as a first-generation college student.”
The Outstanding Alumni Philanthropist Award recognizes exceptional generosity and civic responsibility demonstrated by significant financial contributions to charitable organizations within their community, including the Radford University Foundation. The award is the most recent addition to the Alumni Awards, with the first award being presented in 2016.
Campbell exemplifies how a Highlander can truly make a difference for others. Campbell, along with classmates during his time at Radford University, formed a scholarship called Honor to Serve, a scholarship that annually recognizes two Radford University alumni who served in the military or careers related to first response and financially supports two current Radford students who are pursuing similar paths.
“It is never about one person with what we are doing,” Campbell said. “It takes a team. We have a great team with a shared vision. We started the scholarship as a way to honor the Radford University alumni who have served the country. Radford has a phenomenal tradition of exemplary alumni who have had impactful roles.”
The Honor to Serve Scholarship is a way to honor the sacrifice and service of the many Radford University alumni who give selflessly to their communities each and every day.
The event concluded with a strong sense of Highlander pride. “We are a campus community that is second to none, and we need to tell that to everyone we come across,” said Rebekah LaPlante ’99, M.S. ’01, Senior Associate Director of Admissions. “You, many times, are the voice of Radford. The stories you tell your neighbors, your friends about the opportunities you had as students here, about the faculty here and about the lifelong friendships you gained here tell the Radford story. We are stronger together.”
The dedication of the Radford alumni from across the globe showcases the impact that Highlanders have on not only future Highlanders, but also the surrounding community and the world.