Skip to main content

Every two weeks, Highlander Highlights shares with readers some of the extraordinary research and accomplishments happening on and off campus through the tireless work and curiosity of our students and faculty.

Governor’s schools give high school students a taste of university life

This summer, about 330 rising high school juniors and seniors are on the Radford campus, engaging with faculty in unique hands-on learning experiences, making new friends and getting a real feel for the university life.

The monthlong residential Visual and Performing Arts and Humanities Summer Regional Governor’s School began June 23 and runs through July 20. Throughout each weekday, students from all over Virginia are taking classes on a variety of topics. On the humanities side, courses cover topics ranging from humor to advancing solutions to some of the world’s most difficult and wicked problems. Visual and performing arts students are spending their days learning and training in music – vocal and instrumental – art, dance and theater.

“It’s very intense study,” said humanities program director Zehui Dai, an assistant professor of communication studies at Radford. 

On the weekends, students get a chance to relax and participate in activities, making for a well-rounded month of enjoyable learning. “Governor’s School is fun and intelligent,” Dai said with a smile.

That’s one reason Assistant Professor of Music Meredith Bowen continues to work with Governor's School year after year. “The students are just very curious,” she explained. “They're talented and they're smart, and they're fun to work with.”

Meanwhile, Governor’s School for Medicine and the Health Sciences runs through July 20 at Radford University at Carilion (RUC) in Roanoke. There, 25 high school students are learning about the medical and health sciences field through engaging hands-on learning activities.

The Medicine and Health Sciences Camp kicked off on Monday, June 24, with participating students having the chance to talk with faculty and staff from RUC, Virginia Western Community College, Carilion Clinic, the Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School, Roanoke College, the Fralin Biomedical Institute and more. The students will be interacting with healthcare professionals from all of these institutions and organizations over the next month as the program progresses and will be able to get a preview of the different healthcare-related programs each has to offer.

Among the topics students are learning about are nursing skills and bedside care with the Radford University College of Nursing, biotechnology with scientists conducting research at the Fralin Biomedical Institute, community health with public health specialists from Carilion Clinic and RUC, first responder care from the emergency services department at RUC, lab and phlebotomy skills with the faculty of the RUC Medical Laboratory Science program, social work process with the Radford University Social Work faculty and much more.

In addition, participants have the opportunity to shadow Carilion Clinic employees in real clinical areas at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Advocating for veterans

Melissa Kedrowitsch, a student in the Master of Social Work program, is bringing awareness to the importance of veterans treatment dockets, "a specialty court,” she said, “that's meant to address the specific needs of veterans who enter the judicial system.” One of the main priorities, Kedrowitsch noted, “is to keep veterans out of jail by offering them support and services to address their mental health and substance use disorder needs.” Kedrowitsch, a mother and military spouse, interned with New River Valley Community Service (NRVCS), working to educate people about the veterans docket court there, which began about six months ago and is the only such court in rural Virginia. Kedrowitsch will continue her work in the fall through an internship with the Veterans Treatment Docket.

Radford students lead workshop at national conference

Radford students Cora Burt and Abbi Green attended the ConnectUR 2024 annual conference at the University of Maryland this summer, where they, along with Associate Provost for Research, Faculty Success and Strategic Initiatives Jeanne Mekolichick and Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Joe Wirgau, led a workshop focused on putting career readiness as central to undergraduate research experiences. “The workshop went incredibly well, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing team,” said Green, a rising senior mathematics and statistics major from Elkton, Virginia.

Green and Wirgau also presented a poster at the conference, explaining their research examining the impact of course-based undergraduate research experiences on retention in first-year students at Radford. “It has been a really great experience getting to connect with so many different professionals and have some really productive conversations at the poster session,” Green said.

Measuring student civic engagement

Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science Chapman Rackaway is among 35 higher education professionals selected for the 2024-2025 cohort of The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Emerging Leaders Program.

As part of the program, Rackaway will lead an assessment of Radford students’ civic engagement skills and knowledge as they first enroll at the university.

“I believe we have an opportunity to enhance our civic work, advance our curricular integration of civic work and asses its impact on student success,” said Rackaway, who said civic engagement is “core to my personal mission as a faculty member.”

AASCU is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of almost 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members, it says, “share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.”

The professor has been part of AASCU's civic engagement entity, the American Democracy Project (ADP), for 20 years. At the organization’s annual conference this year, he was named to the ADP National Steering Committee. 

“I'll help the group decide on new programs to encourage students to vote, engage in civil dialogue, and otherwise use their voices and skills to be full participants in the political world,” Rackaway said, explaining his role.

Two retired faculty members granted professor emeritus status

Recently retired faculty members Margaret Devaney of the Department of Dance and Jerry Beasley of the Department of Health and Human Performance have been granted professor emeritus status.

Criteria for emeritus status include a minimum of 10 years of service to Radford University, evidence of effective teaching and significant professional contributions. The privileges and responsibilities attached to emeritus status include use of McConnell Library, a university computer account, use of athletics facilities available to the university’s current faculty, a Radford University ID card and special events discounts and attendance at university functions that are open to all current faculty.