Senior Starr Woods shares her journey to and through Radford
Known for her campus involvement, infectious smile and outgoing personality, Starr Woods’ journey to graduation began long before her arrival at Radford.
As her graduation approaches, Starr hopes her story inspires others to continue their education at Radford University, despite any circumstances standing in their way.
The Richmond native has fond memories of growing up with her sister, mother and father. She describes family as the most important influence in her life. That familial bond was strengthened when Starr was just 13 years old and her father passed away.
“He’s going to miss these big moments. He’s going to miss me graduating high school, he’s going to miss me graduating college, and he’s going to miss giving me away. At that age, it’s hard to go through the loss of a parent, because life is still very new,” Woods said.
As the family worked to overcome the loss of its patriarch, Woods worked to comprehend the ways that loss was changing her. Woods recalls the stressful times she watched her mother endure to provide for their family. Financially, physically and emotionally, the family clung to each other for support. It was that support that motivated Woods to move forward, despite the loss.
“My mom has been a really important role in supporting me. When she sees that I’m falling, she always knows the right words to pick me up,” said Woods. “My grandmother’s words of encouragement really light a fire under me. My uncle Van is such a fighter for our family. My stepdad has always taken care of us. Family is my number one priority all the time.”
... my grades started to increase, because I was surrounded by a community that believed in me and that helped me believe in myself.”
As Woods continued to cope with the death of her father, she also began struggling in school. Between homework and marching band, the thought of college seemed distant.
“I tried my hardest, but I just didn’t know how to learn,” Woods said.
As her time in high school came to an end, the rejection letters piled up. Woods had hoped her extracurricular activities would make up for her slipping grades. She knew the unmet potential she possessed and searched for an institution willing to recognize that potential.
As several friends began applying to Radford University, Woods followed suit. Soon after, she was accepted into the School of Communication at Radford.
“Radford helped me understand that it is ok to struggle. For a school to give me a chance after my grades weren’t necessarily the best,” Woods said. “For them to stand behind me, not even knowing me, and supporting me… my grades started to increase, because I was surrounded by a community that believed in me and that helped me believe in myself.”
Since coming to Radford, Woods has embraced the Highlander spirit. She is an active member of the YoungLife group on campus, regularly attends campus-wide events and serves as a student representative at various events.
Upon graduation in 2020, Woods is considering either focusing her efforts on the marketing of a digital app she created with a fellow classmate, or going back to school to get her master’s degree.
“I’m really scared to graduate, but it’s coming. I can’t stop the dates or the time. So, here we go, keep going,” Woods said.
Woods believes in the importance of being vulnerable and real, citing both as part of the healing process. She hopes other future students can recognize that every journey to Radford is different, some easier, some more difficult, but all worth it to become a Highlander.