The Radford experience gives confidence, drive, ambition for alumni in Northern Virginia

Alumna socialize at the Bull Run Winery in Centreville, Virginia.

If it was not for their Radford University chance encounter, then Brian ’12, M.S. ’14 and Nicole Gwanzura ’12, M.B.A. ’13 may have never met. Nicole discovered another student was from her corner of the world during her freshman year and set out to find Brian. The two were strangers to one another from Zimbabwe and connected on campus at Radford University. They are now married and have a child.

“He was taking a stroll from the Bonnie,” Nicole said. “I decided to…”

“Sprint after me,” Brian said, finishing her sentence. Both laughing as they reflect on the memory.

“Radford gave me the opportunity to be here in the United States, and it’s allowed me to meet my wife and get an education. It shaped my whole life and it means so much to me,” Brian said.

“The rest is history,” Nicole said.

The Gwanzuras shared their story with fellow alumni and reconnected with friends during the last stop on the Highlander Family Tour at the Bull Run Winery in Centreville, Virginia. Their story is one of dozens told by those in attendance about finding love, discovering a career, or finding their true potential -- all giving credit to Radford University.

Both of Danielle Pompa’s ’18 parents graduated from Radford making her a legacy student. She made the decision on her own to attend the University and major in Criminal Justice, the same degree her father pursued.

“It was really special to have that connection, and they knew people on campus still,” Pompa said. “I had the best four years at Radford that I could have ever imagined, and it’s carried me so far. I’ve got a great job and great friends, and it’s just a really big community that means the world to me.”

I had the best four years at Radford that I could have ever imagined, and it’s carried me so far.

Danielle Pompa’s ’18

Sharing a vision for how to advance the University across the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond is what President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. revealed to the crowd in attendance. He was joined by his wife, First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill, Ph.D. and Radford University leadership.

President Hemphill discussed the rapidly growing Cybersecurity program that equips students to succeed within their professions, while simultaneously filling a pressing workforce need. He also shared news of the institution’s newest family members now pursuing health sciences and allied health education at Radford University Carilion. This new educational site for the University, which is the product of a recent merger of health and higher education in Southwest Virginia, has become the second largest nursing program in the Commonwealth. The addition adds about 1,000 students to the University’s enrollment. But, Hemphill reassured the crowd that this growth does not take away from the individualized and personal education each student experiences while at Radford.

Chris Harr ’09 is thankful that one-of-a-kind educational experience helped him make connections with alumni.

“Everywhere I go, I run into an alumnus, whether it was somebody I was in class with or an older alumnus. There’s a great fraternal bond that you have with a fellow Highlander,” Harr said.

Kevin Rogers '87 recipient of the Spirit of the Tartan Award seen here with his wife, President Brian O. Hemphill Ph.D., and First Lady Marisela Rosas Hemphill, Ph.D.

Radford University’s clear vision for a stronger future is what makes him proud to be a Highlander, and one reason Kevin Rogers ’87 supports his alma mater.

Rogers received the Spirit of the Tartan Award, an honor that celebrates the contributions made by alumni like Rogers to their local community and the Highlander nation.

“Radford, for the size of the University and the abilities you gain from the classroom, is unlike any experience,” Rogers said. “Radford gives you that hands-on competency-based learning model. What that means is you’re going to be the first person hired when you come out of school.”

Rogers added that he supports President Hemphill’s leadership in advancing the University into the next era of learning. The former Rowdy Red mascot is now continuing to serve his alma mater by leading the Radford University Alumni Association Board of Directors.

“You can’t go wrong by coming back to Radford and spending time and really investigating to see what it’s all about and giving back and to me it’s worth more than a million words,” Rogers said.

The Highlander Family Tour visited eight locations from Northern Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia reconnecting alumni and spreading the good news about Radford’s mission to be the premier, innovative, student-centered university in the Commonwealth.

Jul 31, 2019
Justin Ward