With the CEO of Cassaday & Company

“Differentiate yourself,” says Stephan Cassaday, kicking off the Jumpstart Career Development event on Sep. 23 as an alumni of Radford University from the class of ’76, now the CEO & Founder of a major wealth management firm in Northern Virginia. He brought with him this exuberant personality that many of the attendees could relate with along with some advice for whomever was looking to succeed in life.

“In order to differentiate yourself, you need to think differently.”

But how do you set your mindset apart from others?

  • According to Cassaday, the first step is to be fit. Exercise not only builds your strength and endurance, but it also boosts your energy. It was the first time hearing a career coach list the gym as the number one secret to success, …but it made sense. Having a healthy mind is just as important, too, that’s why he made sure to touch on mental fitness by playing games or taking quizzes that work your brain muscles. Take Lumosity, for instance. It’s an app meant to improve memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving skills, and the games are actually really fun! 
  • The third step has to do with being a good listener. Challenge yourself to respond to others with nothing but questions to show that you’ve been attentive. “Helps keep your marriage life spicy as well,” said Cassaday with a laugh. 
  • Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. “It may cost you,” he added. “But that’s how you know you’re doing the right thing.” It also earns you a good reputation. 
  • SACRIFICE: sometimes you need to do what you need to do instead of what you want to do.
  • PRACTICE: If you’ve ever wondered how to truly help prepare yourself for an interview, his advice is to role-play. Have somebody ask you questions and film you answering them. Then go back and look at yourself.  
  • “You’re a brand and everything’s in your control. Refine yourself [from your appearance to your skills] to the point that no one can touch you.” The average college student, females especially, are known to run into some challenges when it comes to their wardrobe which is why, understanding this need and the importance of first impressions, the career center at Radford University along with the support of Cassaday have actually set up a “Career Closet” for its students. Contact them for more info here
  • INTERN: “Scope out the hotshot- learn from them, shadow them. You have to find a mentor.” Cassaday had multiple. 
  • Learn how to “ethically persuade” people. “You can’t be a complete person just by going to college,” he said, and recommended reading a book by Robert Sandler called Persuasive Abilities.  
  • His final advice was being money literate. “It’s all about money. Understand it, learn about it (from taxes to personal investments).”
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For Aspiring Journalists

“No matter what your personal belief is, you need to go out there and report the truth- and the truth is out there.” Mark Holmberg was the first to speak at the journalism workshop training I attended a week ago. As somebody who’s used to seeing reporters (or student media leaders) dressed in suits or such attires, his casual appearance struck me a little odd, but, to be honest, befitting. Maybe I’m wrong as I base this off of speculation, but the outfit suited him as he came off to me as a journalist who pursued his stories on the ground rather than from an office. There were others who wore jeans and a t-shirt, but there was something different about Holmberg. One could tell that he was comfortable, that he was  in his element.  It’s true that his towering figure could’ve possibly contributed to his persona, but there was definitely something about him. 

He spoke on agenda-driven reporting and how, even though he was the media, he was sick of it- so much that he didn’t even enjoy turning the news on. “Every issue we’re reporting on, we’re flocking to the loudest person,” he said, implying how we should be doing the opposite. And I agree. Why be repetitive? Why go to an event that’s being broadcast only to return with answers that anyone could’ve found? Why look where everyone else’s already looking? 

The workshop was sponsored by the Virginia Press Association. It was a two-day thing, June 22-23, and honestly an opportunity I couldn’t have taken had it not been for their generous scholarship offering that covered both days of training, lodging for one night at a nearby hotel, and lunch both days as well. The training took place at the VPA headquarters in Glen Allen which was just 10 min away from SpringHill Suites

A lot was covered. A lot was learnt. It was motivational, it was inspirational. When I’m surrounded by journalists, it’s like my adrenaline kicks in. It’s an exciting field to work in and I’m sure a life-changing one. As I come close to starting my senior year of college, my last year, so many thoughts fill my head, so many feelings fill my heart- I realize that this is just the beginning. 

These notes are meant more for me than anyone else- just some lessons, some quotes I jotted down that I thought were worth looking back at. 

  1. First thing: fact-check.
  2. Don’t steel or harden yourself when dealing with stories. Feelings, mainly empathy, are not just important, but necessary for certain stories. “There’s a difference between being emotionally invested and biased.”
  3. It’s OK to have preferences, but the professionalism in this business comes in when you’ve learnt how to remove personal biases. 
  4. Always On Culture: the thought that it’s a 24 hour day, 7 days a week schedule (a must-have for this profession)
  5. You don’t have to overextend yourself. Just write what you know and allow your audience to write the next sentence (especially when your sources won’t answer your questions). 
  6. Be firm, fast, truthful, and steadfast. 
  7. Getting yelled at/thrown things at is part of the job. 
  8. Do not copy news releases. 
  9. Redundant sourcing? A no-no.
  10. Get in the habit of re-reading your stories before you submit them. 
  11. Know in advance how to respond to the question, “What’s in it for me?”
  12. If somebody’s putting you on speaker phone: Who else is in the room and why? What are the possible implications? 
  13. Rule when reporting minors? Make sure parents are there. 
  14. Get rid of I/is/was – use active voice, visuals, and senses. “Take the reader there.”
  15. Although it’s become easy to be unfair due to the impulse to rush, it is worse to be wrong than it is to be last. 
  16. It’s never too late to call your editor. 
  17. Truth is not about balance. Balance is not fair, the truth is, and the truth is not always kind. 
  18. Whether you’re covering sports/politics, know the Freedom of Information Act. You’re not required to tell anyone why you want the documents. 
  19. Wrapping up an interview: note down what you saw, what your subject was wearing, all your observations before you forget. Know where they’ll be the next day so you can follow up in case your editor has more questions and you need to call. 
  20. “A lot of the time, you end up running a lot of other things.” Keep an open mind. 

Another important point that Holmberg shined a light on was how our unique experiences are what’s going to help us write the stories that we’re meant to. “My only rule is to follow the same route people have used- if there’s a hole under a fence, use that. Won’t help with the police, but..” ya get the gist of it. 

I brought back one of my favorite quotes from this workshop: better to ask for forgiveness than permission. 

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Walking Through the Streets of Radford

I was working one night shift at Coldstone Creamery when a lady walked in with her daughter whom I presume will be attending Radford University in the Fall. She asked me if most of the restaurants around campus accept RU Express, a Highlander’s official student identification card which can also serve as a method of payment both on and off campus.

I didn’t know, so, naturally, being a journalism major in her last year, I thought it was a piece worth writing about. There was no way I could allow this question to be left unanswered. That led me to the streets of Radford. 

Before I go ahead and list some of the major businesses around the university that do [or do not] accept RU Express and/or whether they offer student discounts, can we all just first take a moment to appreciate the industrialization of small towns? I don’t know if you’ve heard or if you find this to be as exciting news as I do, but a new shop’s opening up on Main Street for wig lovers! The place is called New Look 2 and they officially open TODAY! (Let me just say that you shall never be their first customer as that’s a title I’ve already taken.. sorry, not sorry)

Meet Shana Eaves, the lady running New Look 2! 

New Look 2, officially open!

#1 | Pollo Loco                                               

  • RU Express [ ]                                                        
  • Student Discount [✓]                                               

#2 | Macado’s

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#3 | Norwood Salon

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [✓]

#4 | State Farm 

  • RU Express [ ]  
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#5 | Davita Kidney Care 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#6 | Highlander Pizza 

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#7 | Cook’s Clean Center (& Formals/Rentals)

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

*relocating to 426 West Main St. as of June 23 

#8 | RU Theatre 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [✓] 

#9 | Black Diamond Tattoo Parlor 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#10 | MyOptics EyeWear

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [✓]

*faculty discount also available 

#11 | Wall’s Jeweler’s 

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#12 | Good Looks (Hair Salon)

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#13 | Game Quest Inc.

  • RU Express: [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#14 | Uptown Nails 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#15 | Christian Travel (Travel Agency)

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#16 | Lucie Monroe’s 

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [✓]

*10%-20% discount when school’s in session

#17 | Cut Nice (Hair Salon)

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#18 | Shear Mellegance (Hair Salon)

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#19 | Vivid Vapes 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [✓]

#20 | Souvlaki (Restaurant)

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [✓]

*along with other weekly offers

#21 | Sushi Chinese & Mongolian Grill 

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#22 | Tuxedo Rental 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#23 | Salon 1124 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#24 | Radford City Florist

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#25 | University BP Gas Station 

  • RU Express [ ]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#26 | Benny Nicola’s (Pizza)

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#27 | Jimmy John’s 

  • RU Express [✓] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#28 | Moe’s Southwest Grill

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#29 | Subway 

  • RU Express [✓] 
  • Student Discount [ ]

#30 | Coldstone Creamery 

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount: [ ] 

#31 | Computer Tyme 

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [ ]

#32 | Lamours 

  • RU Express [ ] 
  • Student Discount [ ] 

#33 | Sal’s Pizza 

  • RU Express [✓]
  • Student Discount [ ] 

 

For a concise list of on & off campus merchants who accept RU express, click here

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Some Inspiration to Keep You Moving

Maybe it’s because I have yet to fully come to terms with everything that’s happened that I continue to speak of the past. It’s crazy, how life works. We’re not getting any younger and life’s not getting any easier. While 2016 was rough for most of us, and I’m not about to delve into why it was for me, there are some quotes and some lessons I picked up along the way that I thought were worth sharing. 

#1 | Show Up

You might be going through a rough time and may want to stay put in bed, in the comfort of your sheets with maybe your cat to cozy up to, but if there’s someplace you rather need to be, just make the effort of showing up, so you don’t have to deal with the option of skipping your class, your meeting, or even a job interview. Don’t let your dreams be dreams. 

#2 | Don’t Be Late 

If you want to leave an impression, don’t even show up on time. One cool professor of mine whose name I could never pronounce (Mr. Esterhuizen) told me this, “If you’re on time, you’re already late.”

#3 | The Right Attitude 

I’m interning with this rad multimedia producer named Paul and as he helped me explore career opportunities, he talked to me about what a difference the right attitude can make. He defined it as being friendly and enthusiastic, and I couldn’t agree more. What does the right attitude look like to you?

#4 | You Never Lose 

This is pretty cliché, but I’m all about seeing bad experiences as lessons. Actually, if you make the same mistake twice, then, yes, it’s a loss- a loss of your precious time and energy, so learn from your mistakes as well as from other people’s. 

#5 | But Love Fearlessly 

There are times the people we love will hurt us, disappoint us, even betray us to the point that we feel disgusted with the idea of ever falling in love again (whatever that looks like). As long as you’re not looking for perfection and keep an open heart & mind, you’ll find happiness. 

Unless of course you’re an independent woman who needs no man. J-Kay.. kind of.. THE POINT IS: love’s worth it. 

#6 | Friends Come and Go 

Except for best friends. They stay. They’re the type of people who will be there for you when you seriously need them to be- P.M. or A.M. They’re the type of people you can pick up where you left off with. They’re the type of people who treat your house as their own, and they’re especially the type of people to give your mother a place to stay the night if she needs one. 

#7 | Cut Out What’s Toxic 

And whoever’s toxic. #thefirststeptofindinghappiness

#8 | Let Go of Your Ego

And make room for soul food. It’s not healthy nor does it help with any relationship at all- personal or professional. 

#9 | It’s OK to be Selfish

As long as it’s not at the expense of another, be absolutely selfish. You’re not obligated to live in another’s shadow. We’re made to feel like we’re being selfish for wanting to live life the way we want to and coming from a collectivistic family structure and background doesn’t really help. Instead, it feels wrong to chase after our dreams. That will not change till you change the way you think. You can only hope others around you will change the way they think once they see that you’re happy and healthy. 

#10 | Find Encouragement in Everything

I can’t remember who told me this, but it’s stuck with me since. Enjoy the little things, celebrate each and every achievement- big or small, let a traffic ticket lead you to learning about the law and your rights more, let rain be the reason for you to share your umbrella with a stranger and sun be the reason you stop by a crowded restaurant to admire and smell the pretty roses. 

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Where to from here?

Junior year of college can be the best as you make the transition from core classes to more targeted classes, and basically start majoring in what majorly interests you. What’s it like to be done with your third year? 

 HA! I’m actually not quite sure myself. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, yet it took me by surprise and here I sit, still trying to digest the fact that I have a year, one year of college life keeping me from being an “adult”. This is mind-blowing to me because I honestly still feel like I’m in my teen years. 

So where to from here?

I’m assuming next year will go by even faster just because it’s the final year. Every minute and every move is going to matter now more than ever and if I’ve been terrible at texting back, I can almost promise you it will get worse. 

As some of you are already aware, my goal is to one day become a News Anchor. That’s why this summer I’m concentrating especially on putting myself out there and on screen more, learning the ins and the outs of video production, taking the time to understand programs like Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects, etc etc.

Specifically, I’m interning at my university this summer under a pretty rad multimedia producer, I’m working on a documentary on the side, making YouTube videos, reading and writing more, but the biggest, coolest, maybe most exciting part of it all-

I’m moving into a place of my own later this summer along with two gorgeous, very talented women! 

 


Thankful for all these people making junior year one to remember! 

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Devon Lee on Black Lives Matter

The impression that the Black Lives Matter movement puts black lives above all other lives is a distorted perspective that a group of people tend to hold. Adjunct professor for Sociology, Devon Lee, talks about why black lives matter in the era of white supremacy on April 04.

The message Devon Lee was trying to get across was that all lives do matter. However, we live in a world where Black lives seem to matter less when we consider police violence, educational, health, and income disparities. He argued that in order for all lives to matter, Black lives must matter more in American society. He noted that movements like “All Lives” or “Blue Lives” matter only deflect from a real. He said that “these movements tend to interrupt a valid ethical claim” which is that racial profiling (and discrimination) still plays a major role in the lives of black folks. 

“For example, blacks are subjected to more discipline compared to other races,” he said. Media coverage, despite its responsibility to fair representation, has become an avid promoter of a narrative that perpetuates a history of violent black people as well other minorities. That “creates this cycle that stereotypes children by creating disparities [between people].” He noted how when innocent Black children are murdered by police, media usually features a criminal background check, however, are less likely to do so for the assailant. 

Mr. Lee even went further in referring to the constitution as being used as a veil that limits our ability to see what happens behind the scenes. People tend to believe that constitutional rights are universal and applies to all and/or protects all, but the truth of the matter is that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is cut short when state sanctioned violence and disparity shapes the life of an entire community.

Justice is often depicted as a blindfolded woman weighing scales of truth. Mr. Lee points out, that goes to show that justice fears none nor favors none. But what is justice really?

“Ethics are interesting because of its subjectivity,” he said. “Racial profiling has not been removed from policing. Is that ethical? From a legal standpoint, Yes, because it’s legal, but in terms of human impact, it’s unethical. [Therefore] law is inconsiderate of human impact. We’re at a historical low of police officers getting killed on the job. Even so, the majority are attacked by whites, not blacks. However, many people see the Movement for Black lives as an attack on law enforcement and replace fact with fiction. This perverts justice in a way where it is difficult for “rational” people to see Black people as victims. [And] research shows us that the more black you look, the more strict your sentence is going to be even if the same crime was committed by a white man.” Justice is neither unbiased or blind.

Lee finds today’s events to resemble the Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896, a day where an important historical decision was made on the basis of “separate but equal” and set back civil rights in the United States for decades to come. The Black community is portrayed as a threat to the freedoms and liberties that have been designed by and protected for whites. With economic instability alongside anti-black sentiment, legislation like stand your ground and Blue lives matter laws are implicitly designed to undermine the freedoms of Black America.

The assumption that the movement is about how black lives matter more than others is an inaccurate claim because it’s about the way they’re treated and how “blacks have fought for liberty in a way that whites have refused to acknowledge. Women [for example] are said to have the same rights but it’s the way that they’re treated that “devalue” their rights. It’s the same case for racism- simply people’s devaluation of others undermine their ability to live a quality of life. It is this struggle that has defined our democracy and that is now at stake if we fail to recognize the impact of white supremacy.

So all lives matter once blacks lives start to matter.”


 

Devon Lee currently teaches Sociology at Radford University and is excited about also becoming an instructor Peace Studies as well next year. He is a Doctoral Candidate in Virginia Tech Sociology Department, specializing in Africana Studies and holds a Bachelors in Sociology, African American Studies as well as a Master’s degree in African American Studies. After leading a march against racial profiling during his early days as a college student, Mr. Lee decided he wanted to put his labor and his energy into actively influencing people’s lives for the better through activism and education.

 

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Going the Distance – Grad School

The Strategic Events Planning committee of students arranged for a group of panelists to speak on the Master of Science in Strategic Communication degree Friday  morning in the Hurlburt Student Center.

The whole point of “COMS Week” is to provide communication majors at Radford University the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience in the field of their choosing, ranging from Journalism and Public Relations to workshops that help gear them toward making themselves marketable and, essentially, employable after graduation.

Panelists on Grad School

Dr. John Brummette, associate professor and graduate coordinator for the School of Communication, also a graduate of Radford’s Master’s program, is joined by instructor Kim Herbert, graduate teaching fellow Andie Fescemyer, graduate research fellow Colin Huband and graduate teaching assistant Stefani Szkalak to deliver a talk on what it takes to earn your graduate’s degree. 

“We pay you to go to school,” said Brummette. With the university having a rolling admission program, he encouraged students to apply all the way up to August despite the Feb. 1 deadline. “Graduate school works very hard, and if there’s any money, we send it to you. Feb. 1 is the priority registration deadline, but we tend to have funding still left over.”

Brummette defined Master’s in Strategic Communication as “any communication that helps an organization achieve its mission.” Possible careers with this degree are endless, namely becoming a “public relations officer working for a police station.” There’s simply no field where effective communication is not present and that’s why the demand for a graduate from this program will remain.

The same student-centered focus is carried from the undergraduate to the graduate programs, but students don’t have to wait till they graduate to enroll. There’s the option for dual-enrollment, where “students are allowed to attend two 500-level classes.”

“The cool thing about this program is you get to make it what you want,” said Huband, who’s interested in converging his passion for producing videos with the aspect of strategic communication.

Students may choose one of two courses of study when it comes to pursuing a Master of Science in Strategic Communication: the non-thesis route or the thesis route. Both require a total of 36 hours, 18 hours in required classes and the remaining 18 in electives, except in the thesis option where six hours will be directed and reserved for the completion and presentation of a thesis.

The minimum GPA requirement’s a 2.75, “but you need to have a higher GRE score. [However] it’s not a pass or fail test. I hear so many stories from so many students,” said Brummette. “Don’t let the test scare you away; it doesn’t reflect your intelligence. Another thing we accept are three really strong recommendation letters.”

“Regarding letters of recommendation, if this is something that interests you, start building those relationships [with your instructors],” advises Herbert.

“But we look at your overall performance,” said Brummette. “What really stands out is if you had a couple of rough semesters, but you really came out of your shell and started doing better.” He admits to having a “not-so-great Freshman year” himself, but he ended up going to Radford for not just his Master’s but his Doctorate degree as well. “I loved my undergrad, but I was able to actually study what I wanted [under the graduate program].”

There’s also the opportunity to earn money as you teach at the graduate level while pursuing your Master’s, something Fescemyer, Huband, Szkalak are currently implementing. One common challenge they’ve faced is establishing a sense of power difference with their students, stated Fescemyer. “We’re a lot closer to the age of our children, so I think they expect us to be lenient. But as long as you stick to your guidelines, there’s should be no problem.”

Huband disagreed with the sentiment, instead raving of his graduate experience in every aspect and how it had been the best decision he’d ever made.

“We’re still accepting applications,” said Brummette. “Step one: fill out application. Step two: your application will be evaluated. A personal statement is required and make sure to have no typos; we need to know what we can offer you to make you better.”

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An Open Invitation

Are you somebody who makes plans to make plans? That’s very me, but I figured I’m going to have to be more of a floating body going along with the flow when it comes to blogging, squeezing in some me time whenever I can, otherwise I’ll never find the time to do what I love!

Hi y’all!  

My name’s Shiza and this is my first blog post. That might puzzle previous followers of my blog At Your Service, but all I’ve done is packed my bags and transitioned to a self-hosted WordPress site and I must say, I’m enjoying the freedom that comes with it. Without further ado- 

This site is still undergoing construction, but it’s primarily designed to revolve around my passion for telling stories. Here you’ll find me taking you on this journey we call life, documenting others and my own struggles as a college student or even just as a citizen of this world. Being trilingual, you can expect to see international content presented here as well.

You know how they say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”? See, now that resonates with me. I’ve moved a lot and I’ve seen enough to want to take a stand for what’s right and to take a stand against what’s wrong, and whether I come across opinionated or not, I will no longer trade my authenticity for somebody’s approval. Neither will I follow a path laid for me by others (except by Allah Himself). 

Speaking of which, I’m the last person on Earth probably who’s in any position to be preaching and I’m not going to. But what I will do is reserve a category for those interested in understanding what Islam is like for me, the way I’ve come to know it- simply to boost awareness in times where Islamophobia’s on the rise. 

I mean, how else shall we find peace if we’re looking for it with closed eyes and shut ears? Okay, I lied. I might preach here and there as I’m a big advocate of being open-minded. Of course, I’m also of the belief that people are entitled to hold as firmly as they wish to to their convictions, but only to the point to where it neither harms nor compromises another body. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, to put an end to this first post, it should come as no surprise that my concentration’s Journalism. As a media studies major, I get to learn and work with a variety of people and equipment, seeing what medium’s best to deliver such and such information. It’s a thrilling field to work in and, with it, I hope to be of great service to the public and bring forth some super exciting content. 

 

P.S. Don’t hesitate to engage with me! Leave a comment or shoot me an email, I’d love to know what topics appeal to you, what you’d like to hear about or see covered. 

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