Spring Commencement 2023: Justine McLaughlin, Artis College of Science and Technology
During her four years at Radford University, Justine McLaughlin has made many connections on campus with fellow students, faculty, staff and the occasional salamander.
The human side of that equation has come to her in part through her role as Student Government Association president this past academic year, her senior year at Radford. Serving as president stands out in a host of memorable moments at Radford.
“Promoting togetherness and community among organizations and students here on main campus and at Radford University Carilion is one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of,” said the senior biology major from Waldorf, Maryland. “It was really nice to connect with so many different people. And working with faculty senate was really great.”
Through her many initiatives, McLaughlin humbly feels she has helped make the university community a better place by helping students feel like they belong at Radford.
“A sense of belonging is one of the keys to a person’s success,” she explained. “So, when students feel like they belong in an environment, and they can call Radford University home, they can do better in their academics and personal lives.”
McLaughlin learned this firsthand.
“Radford has given me so many professional development opportunities for me to really find my career passions in leadership,” she said, “and so I was really able to develop my sense of self.”
Early on, in her second year at Radford, McLaughlin found a passion for research. She worked with Radford biology faculty members performing DNA barcoding on birds, “and now I do the same thing with salamanders,” she explained.
Those research opportunities, along with her campus leadership roles – she’s also a REALISE peer mentor and president of the campus Pre-Medical Association – have helped McLaughlin advance toward her “dream career” in health administration, specifically, “working in best practices as a healthcare consultant.”
This fall, McLaughlin will attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, to pursue a master’s degree in health administration. “Radford University has prepared me for what lies ahead by giving me so many opportunities to grow,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve always really felt I was given an opportunity to learn.”
In the more immediate future, she will be among the Radford University Class of 2023 who will walk across the stage at Spring Commencement on May 6 to receive their hard-earned undergraduate degrees. McLaughlin will be celebrating with family. Her mother, brother, stepfather and grandparents will all be there on Moffett Lawn, cheering her on.
“I feel a lot of happiness, but I’m also sad to leave,” she said, while also mentioning some of the numerous people who have guided and instructed her along her Radford journey.
“This is a place I’ve called home,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a place where I feel I became my true self.”