Winter Commencement 2022: An exciting day for first-generation grad

Sarah Cole '22

In May of 2022, Sarah Cole sat among the crowd gathered for Radford University’s Spring Commencement, watching friends walk across the stage as their names were called to receive their diplomas.

“It was really exciting,” the senior communication major said of the joyous occasion that’s always brightened by smiles and filled with laughter and music. “Now, it’s my turn. I’m really excited to experience graduation for myself.”

Her family is thrilled too, for Cole, a first-generation college student from Fredericksburg, Virginia, who will graduate Saturday, Dec. 10, at the university’s Winter Commencement. “My mom is really excited to come to campus and see me graduate. It’s going to be a big family celebration.”

Cole came to Radford in part because of the university’s unique community atmosphere, the small class sizes and because, she said, “they almost branded themselves as a first-generation university.

“Plus, my mom really loves the bagpipes,” she said with a smile.

Scholarships helped, too. Cole has been the recipient of Radford University Foundation and Shelor Motor Mile scholarships. “I’m very thankful for those,” she said.

Once Cole arrived on campus, she thrived. She tried out for the women’s club lacrosse team, which led to “opportunities to become a leader,” she said. She became the team’s social media chair, then vice president.

“That set me up for success,” Cole explained.

Soon, she became involved in student government, provided a discerning eye as editor of the campus yearbook – The Beehive – and served as a student ambassador for the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.

“That role gives me so many opportunities to interact with professors – she conducted research with School of Communication Senior Instructor Betty Kennan – and I get to talk to prospective students about coming to Radford, and I’m able to tell them about my experiences and give them as much information as possible about the university.”

Graduate school applications are fast approaching for Cole, but for now, this weekend – she’s ready to celebrate her hard work and success with her family during commencement.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” she said. “And so has my family. We’re all really excited for me to graduate.”

Dec 9, 2022
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761