Highlanders in the News: Week of Dec. 4, 2023

Every other 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.

“Strategic” growth

The very day this installment of “Highlanders in the News” goes online – Friday, Dec. 8 – marks a special occasion for Brenell Thomas, M.S. ’23,  president of the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and executive director of that chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG).

Brenell Thomas M.S. '23 (Martinsville Bulletin)

Dec. 8 is the day she’ll be receiving her master’s degree in strategic communication, which she pursued at Radford University through the New College Institute.

In addition to that accomplishment, Thomas, late last month, was the subject of an extensive profile in The Martinsville Bulletin.

The Nov. 25 article followed her from her college days in Charlottesville, Virginia, through early careers that took her to Maryland; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia;  and finally, in 2001, back to her hometown of Martinsville, Virginia, where she now lives.

The story also looks at her family, including her father’s service to the Henry County Sheriff’s office, her work with the Virginia Employment Commission and Patrick & Henry Community College, her current chamber leadership and the story of how she overcame a recent health crisis.

“So much of your work is your identity,” Thomas told the paper. “Whether you choose it, or it chooses you.”

A sidebar piece, part of the paper’s Piedmont Profiles series, delves into such subjects as Thomas’s hobbies, favorite foods and movies and her preferred ways to start and conclude a typical Saturday.

Reached this week, Thomas said she initially started work on her graduate degree years ago at another institution but wasn’t able to complete it.

“This time around, quitting wasn’t an option,” she said. “I feel so overwhelmingly blessed. I would not be here without the tremendous support of classmates, faculty, friends and family. I made it, and it feels amazing!

“I am already applying some of the knowledge gained from the program in my current leadership roles. I am looking forward to paying this forward and sharing my experience to hopefully motivate others to make the temporary sacrifice for the greater gain that education will afford.”

Spot news

Dutchie Mirolli ’94 (Cardinal News)

There are Highlanders in the News, and there are Highlanders in the news.

Dutchie Mirolli ’94 currently lands in both categories.

A Nov. 30 story by Cardinal News announced she’s joined that online organization’s staff as its director of development.

Mirolli is a Roanoke native with an extensive background in nonprofit journalism, the article notes, primarily as a longtime reporter, producer, anchor and assignment editor at NPR member station WVTF/RADIO IQ. She also coordinated fund drives and community engagement for the station.

She holds a degree in media studies from Radford and also works as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and vocalist, according to the announcement.

Cardinal’s Executive Director Luanne Rife said Mirolli has “a passion for nonpartisan journalism” and brings with her “skills in marketing and development that are needed to support the editorial team.” 

'We' rather than 'me'

Kyndall Stanley

A recent story by The Roanoker Magazine tips its hat to nine local student athletes playing NCAA sports on a college level, one of whom is Radford University softball player Kyndall Stanley.

Stanley is from Christiansburg, Virginia, and the article is toplined by an image of the junior outfielder, deftly positioned beneath a fly ball headed straight toward her waiting glove.

“Stanley made a lot of people happy when she committed to play softball at Radford over other offers,” the article notes. “Even in high school, teammates and competitors alike say she was a ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ type of individual.”

According to Radford Athletics, Stanley in her third year of play appeared as a pinch runner in 28 games across the most recent season.

She stole seven bases – a career high – and scored 11 runs, two of which came during an April 29 game “to help fuel a win” over Longwood University.


Dec 8, 2023
Neil Harvey