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).”
Continue Reading

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.


Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading