Event lets students experience REAL possibilities


For Taylor Gary, being a nurse is the best way to help people in her community live and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

That belief, and a brief internet search, are what led her to Radford University.

When Gary began looking for colleges before graduating high school, she Googled the top nursing programs in Virginia and, she said, “Radford popped up.” Now, the freshman from Martinsville, Virginia, is here on campus, just beginning her Radford University journey aimed toward a career and life of helping others.

However, resting among the physical, intellectual and emotional tools Gary has begun acquiring for a nursing career is a pair of dancing shoes.

“I’ve always danced,” she said. “I started when I was 2 years old, and I fell in love with it.”

That love is one reason she visited the REAL Experience in Young Hall.

“I came here to declare a minor,” Gary said, walking with her friend and fellow freshman Joleigh Helton, who was also exploring the many minors Radford University has to offer.

“I’ve decided to minor in dance and take classes and do the things I used to do and enjoy when I was younger,” Gary explained with a smile. 

Radford’s Academic Success Center, the Center for Career and Talent Development and many of the university’s faculty took over all four floors of Young Hall Oct. 4 to give students the REAL Experience, formerly the Majors and Minors Fair. It was an event in which representatives from more than 45 academic programs were present to talk with students about exploring academic programs and student-engagement opportunities as well as majors and minors within Radford’s new REAL Curriculum, which launched with the 2021 fall semester.

“Faculty from almost every major, minor and academic program shared their passion, enthusiasm and expertise directly with hundreds of students who took the opportunity to participate in the REAL Experience,” said Corey Cassidy, the executive director of the Academic Success Center and professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, who coordinated the event.

In the new REAL Curriculum, students fulfill requirements by completing majors and minors to address four knowledge areas: scientific and quantitative Reasoning, humanistic or artistic Expression, cultural or behavioral Analysis and applied Learning. This ensures a broad and focused education that helps students succeed far into the future, while also allowing students to go deeper than a traditional menu-based general education.


Instead of taking one or two classes from a set of menus, Radford students can now use their general education to acquire a depth of learning and credentials that can serve them for a lifetime.

REAL also showcases the diversity of academic experiences available to Radford students. The curriculum features majors in 43 areas of study and more than 90 minors. Every Radford student can find courses of study that will ignite their passion for learning.

Many did just that through the REAL Experience.

“Radford University is an institution where faculty work directly with and connect with our students to help support their lifelong success,” Hendrix said. “The REAL Experience event put that on public display as faculty and students discussed academic program opportunities. It was so wonderful to see our students get excited about all of the learning opportunities available on our campus.”

Walking on the first floor midway through the REAL Experience, sophomore Ashton Kincer looked down at the provided color-coded map displaying all the offices and academic programs represented in the building.

“There definitely are a lot of choices here,” said Kincer, an allied health sciences major from Roanoke, Virginia, who was in search of a minor that complemented her major but would also be enjoyable. She had narrowed her choices to women’s and gender studies, communication and psychology.

“It’s great to have all of these programs here in one place and be able to talk to so many people at the same time,” Ashton said. “I can just talk to them all in one convenient spot.”

Joleigh Helton, Taylor Gary’s friend, agreed. “I love everything about this,” she said while mulling over a decision to minor in psychology to accompany her elementary education major. Both liked the idea, too, of the new REAL Curriculum.

“I think REAL will make us into more well-rounded students.,” Taylor said. “I’m going to be taking nursing classes, but I get to take some fun classes, too, like dance classes. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” 

Oct 12, 2021
Chad Osborne