“It has always been my wish to give back to Radford,” says Yuanhang (Bob) Yang. “That’s the place I started my new life.” He came from China to Radford in August 1996 to pursue an M.B.A. degree. RU had awarded him a small scholarship, which, he says, “at that time was really a big help.”
Bob met his wife, Yongli Xi, also from China, when she came to Radford a year later to seek a master’s degree in international economics. She, too, had received an RU scholarship.
Although Bob and Yongli met within a few days of her arrival, it wasn’t until the next semester that they “really had a chance to talk,” says Yongli, during spring break when Bob gave her a ride back to Radford from Washington, D.C. A few days later, he invited her and two classmates to go on a ski trip in West Virginia. “That was the start,” she says.
By then Bob was a couple of months away from graduation, after which he moved to Atlanta to work for the Federal Reserve Bank. He drove back to visit her when he could, and occasionally she got a ride to Atlanta with a friend. Her studies went well. She won a 1999 Outstanding Student Award and was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
With Yongli’s graduation approaching, she applied to a graduate program in Canada, where she earned a second master’s degree in computer science from Queen’s University, then took a job with IBM in Toronto. “I stayed in Canada four years, until I got my citizenship,” she says. “During that time we never broke contact.”
At last, in 2003, Yongli moved to Atlanta, where she went to work for the Centers for Disease Control. She and Bob began investing in real estate, and later he founded his own real estate firm. In 2007, 10 years after they met, Bob and Yongli married. Now they have a one-year-old daughter, Allison Yuanting Yang.
“We got a lot of help from people at Radford,” says Bob. “I still remember Teresa Underwood [now Teresa King]. She was so wonderful.” King, the immigration counselor and assistant director of RU’s International Education Center, supported him in establishing Radford’s Asian Students Association, he says. According to King, Bob helped to establish additional connections between the university and China. “His efforts increased interest at RU in pursuing opportunities there,” she says.
One of Yongli’s favorite teachers was economics professor Prahlad Kasturi. “We are still close friends. He always says I am one of four star students of his,” she says. “He has been very caring to all his students.”
In the summer of 2005 Bob and Yongli reunited with these old friends when they went back to Radford for a visit. “My parents came, too,” says Yongli. “It was wonderful to show them the place that I had talked about for so long.” Bob and Yongli were happy to see the new Cook Hall of International Education.
Recently, when they learned about the seat-naming campaign for the new Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts, they hardly had to think twice about making a donation. “For us, this is very important,” says Bob. “It is a privilege to be able to give back in any form. What I have is not much, but what I have is because of Radford. I wouldn’t have my baby, I wouldn’t have my wife. We found the love of our life there. Everything started at Radford.”
To learn about the “Seat of Honor” campaign, e-mail email@example.com or visit http://www.radford.edu/seatofhonor/.