Highlanders refreshed and ready for exciting opportunities in new year

Students walk across main campus between classes during the first week of the Spring semester.

The Spring 2021 semester at Radford University started on January 19 with a sense of optimism that could be felt across its Radford and Roanoke sites.

For many students, faculty and staff, it was the first trip back since the fall semester concluded in November.

“I’m excited to be back on campus, and so are my classmates,” said senior Chananjah Duncan of Chesapeake, Virginia. “Just to see everyone come back together has been so uplifting.”

A biology major, Duncan is on track to graduate this spring. In addition to fulfilling her third year as a resident assistant and duties as a student worker in the Dean of Students office, she’ll spend the semester applying for internships, she said.

“I look forward to reflecting on all that I’ve accomplished and what is to come,” she continued.

Duncan’s enthusiasm resonated with many members of the Radford family.

This semester is also Larry Becker’s last at Radford. The senior from Roanoke, Virginia, is a media studies major. He’s looking forward to graduate school and a future career as a sports broadcaster.

“It was a long break, so I’m excited to be back,” he said. “I’m ready to get started on my last semester.”

Faculty Senate president and professor of literacy education Katie Hilden, Ph.D., called the new year “a new beginning.”


Students at RUC shared their excitement to be a Highlander during their first week.

“As Highlanders, we will explore opportunities and meet challenges offered this semester,” Hilden said. “We look forward to being a part of our students’ journeys this semester, and we honor our faculty’s flexibility and tireless efforts on behalf of our students during such challenging and disruptive times.”

At Radford University Carilion, many students spent their first day back catching up with their peers in the Highlander House. There, they also received customized T-shirts, embodying the Highlander spirit.

On main campus, students dressed in layers to battle the bitter temperatures as wintry gusts scooted them on their way to class. Masks served not only as a COVID-19 precaution but a welcomed shield from the wind.

The Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center buzzed with activity as students bustled in and out to escape the cold, catch up with friends and grab a bite to eat. Outside on the plaza, junior Michelle Acosta helped hand out colorful Radford T-shirts to passersby.

Acosta said although navigating through college during the pandemic has been difficult at times, the University has made it a “seamless experience.”

“I feel very confident about my return to campus, and I look forward to another semester of learning and growing," she said.

Acosta, a public relations and Spanish double major from Northern Virginia, is especially looking forward to her continued role with the Latino Student Alliance as the public relations chair. She is also getting firsthand experience in her major as an intern with the Office of University Relations.

Students on main campus and at RUC had the option to pick up a t-shirt as a welcome back gift.

Autumn Kirven of Milford, Virginia, shared in Acosta’s confidence. A junior, Kirven transferred to Radford from Virginia Tech. This is her first semester here, and she’s majoring in physical education.

 “I like it here at Radford. It feels more like home, and it’s refreshing to be here,” Kirven said. “Things are really different because of COVID, but I feel like Radford is doing a really good job. All my major classes are in-person, so I can still get that experience of being in the classroom. The professors are making sure we have access to everything we need for our classes. They are helping us out a lot.”

Another highlight of the semester’s start was the eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The event traditionally sends Highlanders into the community to volunteer. This year, due to the pandemic, they were encouraged to support the local community through monetary, food and other types of meaningful donations in remembrance and honor of the late King.

Donations will be accepted through January 27.

Without a doubt, the Spring 2021 semester has already exemplified Radford University’s continued commitment to academic excellence and community service in the face of adversity. In the coming weeks and months ahead, Highlanders will continue to work hard, support one another and follow COVID-19 guidelines to protect the health and well-being of our community and beyond.

Jan 22, 2021
Mary Hardbarger
(540) 831-5150