Highlanders in the News: Week of Nov. 28

Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Maxine Morales ’06 (right), with her mother and co-worker, Mirna Medina-Gonzalez. Screen captures via 13 News Now.

Generations of care

Maxine Morales ’06 was a sophomore when she decided to change her major to nursing.

In making that switch, it could be said she joined a family business, following both her mother, Mirna Medina-Gonzalez, and her grandmother into a career of helping others.

It was a choice that stuck – for more than a decade and a half, Morales and Medina-Gonzalez have worked as nursing colleagues at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

A Nov. 28  story by Norfolk’s 13 News Now looks at their friendship and the working relationship between mother and daughter, as well as how they stay connected in their stressful occupation.

Both women say that, for them, beyond the clinical aspect, their work also involves understanding and addressing “the emotions of those who find themselves or a loved one in a heartbreaking circumstance,” the piece explains.

That empathy and action are not just mere components of the job but are, Morales maintains, “the heart of it.” 

Don Staley '89. Image via the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

The rewards of a “lifetime”

A former Highlander coach and 2017 inductee into Radford University’s Athletics Hall of Fame has received a statewide accolade for his subsequent work in Alabama’s tourism industry.

Don Staley ’89, who helped build Radford’s men’s and women’s soccer teams and capped off his 23-year post with 182 combined wins, last month was given the Lifetime Achievement award at the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association’s 2022 Stars of the Industry Awards event.

Sports Travel Magazine wrote on Nov. 23 that, in 2007, Staley helped form the Tuscaloosa Sports Foundation and, from 2010 to 2014, served as its executive director of sports.

He then became executive director of the Sports Tourism Complex in Foley, Alabama, where he oversaw promotions of the $32 million facility. That same year, he was recognized by the Alabama House of Representatives for his work.

Although he retired in July from Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, Staley – who now lives in Florida – has since launched the Southeastern Network of Athletic Professionals, according to a Nov. 22 article in the Tuscaloosa Thread.  

A news release on the award by the ARHA said 140 nominations for the award were submitted by peers of the nominees.

During his time at Radford, Staley coached two All-Americans, a men's U.S. Olympic Team member and a women's Hermann Trophy finalist.

Staley is Radford’s only Hall of Fame member to be named Big South Coach of the Year in two different sports, winning first for his work with the men’s team in 1991, then with the women’s team in 1993.

Theodore Samuels ’01. Photo courtesy of the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center.

Unique eye

“We are a strange grouping of people on this planet,” photographer Theodore Samuels ’01 recently told the East New York News.  

“I find that the only thing that separates us can be simplified into one word: culture,” Samuels explained. “And culture is defined by the way we use the word ‘art,’ the way we use the same tools, yet slightly differently, [and] the way we see the same material, yet understand it with our unique eye.”

Some of the products of Samuels’ own eye were on display this week as he hosted his first solo photography exhibit, “The Games We Play,” from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at the Major Owens Community Center in Brooklyn, New York.

East New York News ran advance coverage of Samuels’ exhibit on Nov. 19.

“We’re excited to present our first photography exhibition featuring the work of Theo Samuels, a resident of Crown Heights and a member of our cultural center,” an official with the community center said in the story. “Mr. Samuels’ photography awakens the senses, exhibiting an array of warm colors and thought-provoking emotions.”

The article also included a short biography of Samuels that unveiled some of the origins of his work.

“The very moment he bought his own camera, he knew that he had found something special,” the article said, adding, “He discovered a deeper love of photography while studying fine arts photography at Radford University.”

Samuels later attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale before moving to New York City. 

Dec 2, 2022
Neil Harvey
(540) 831-5150