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Classes commence at Radford University

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A small achievement marked Jharet Crawford's first day of classes at Radford University.

"I found the mess hall by myself," said the Burlington, New Jersey, freshman.

Crawford joined thousands of students, faculty and staff Monday who combed the lively Radford campus, where 2014-15 fall semester classes commenced.

At 11 a.m., Crawford, seated outside Heth Hall, had already been awake much longer than many students had gotten sleep the night before.

Earlier that morning, around 4, Crawford joined the rest of the RU Army ROTC for cycles of outdoor workouts. Through the military training program, Crawford said he has met a lot of new friends with whom he attended Student Convocation on Sunday, explored campus and helped find a place to grab food.

"It's been great so far," said Crawford, who plans to major in production technology.

He heard about RU through a representative who visited his New Jersey high school. Already knowing he wanted to enroll in a school where an ROTC program was offered, Crawford's decision to attend RU was cemented when he heard of its affordability, size and low student-to-teacher ratio.

While Crawford waited for his first class of the semester to begin, Brooke Eubank had already tackled hers – Intro to Psychology.

After class, Eubank, of New Kent, Virginia, waited outside of Dalton Hall to meet a friend for lunch. The freshman psychology major said she was nervous to start classes, but she had friends who attended RU –including her boyfriend – and was eager to make more.

Senior nursing majors Jennifer Wagoner, Sarah Hughes and Kelsey Page dined together outside the Hurlburt Student Center. Although Monday was their first day of class, the fall semester is their last at Radford University. The trio is on track to graduate this winter.

"It feels so good," said Page, who plans to return to her Virginia Beach home upon graduation.

The nursing students said their time in the classroom will end in October with final exams, and then they will begin practicums at area hospitals, working full-time with nurses to complete their degrees.

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Aside from going to class, Jesse Witt of Roanoke, Virginia, spent his first day at RU taking in the scenery. A notebook resting in his lap, Witt sat at the campus fountain, where others gathered to enjoy the clear sky and comfortable temperature.

"This place is beautiful," he said.

Witt, a junior transfer student, plans to major in exercise, sport and health education, and he has been working and saving up this summer to help pursue his college and career ambitions.

Laura Vaughn's summer agenda and Monday morning plans almost mirrored Witt's.

The Radford, Virginia, freshman sat on a bench with a laptop, reflecting on her work-filled summer.

Hoping to get a head start on her studies, Vaughn was already working on an assignment for her chemistry lab, where she believes she will be the only freshman in attendance.

"I'm really excited to start the year," Vaughn said. "Nervous, but excited."

Students are returning to an RU campus where nearly $330 million in capital construction projects continue to enhance the university's educational and recreational offerings.

The Student Recreation and Wellness Center, scheduled to open in late fall, will offer students state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, making it one of the most advanced buildings of its kind on any Virginia university campus. A highlight of the $32 million, 112,000-square-foot building is a graded track, which provides breathtaking views of rolling mountaintops and a flourishing RU campus and student body.

Construction on the $49.5 million, 113,000-square-foot Center for the Sciences building, located behind Reed/Curie Hall, is scheduled to be completed mid-2015. The building will be a premier science destination for students, featuring a planetarium, vivarium and the Museum of Earth Sciences.

While many students were away from campus this summer, construction began on the new College for Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. The building will act as a central hub for all academic programs that fall under the college. The facility will consolidate classrooms, labs, offices and research space into a single, modern building, which, at 143,600 square feet, will be the largest academic building on campus.

Aug 26, 2014