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“Students don’t stay at Averett University,” says Dr. Pamela Riedel, “for the same reason they first come here. They enroll for all kinds of reasons — they like the campus, they see a lot of opportunities, they like the athletics, etc. — but they stay because they learn that with the help of their faculty members, they can succeed.”

Riedel says that the bonds formed between Averett faculty and students are critical to the Averett experience: “We set our expectations high, and then we help our students meet and exceed those expectations. We enable our students; we work with them very personally and we watch them grow. That’s the kind of relationship this university is known for, and it is very rewarding to all of us.”

She adds that the individualized emphasis on the students’ growth is not something you’re likely to find in universities larger than Averett. “The kind of mentoring that we provide — the personalized, continuous interaction between students and faculty — that really is the way our students come to understand that yes, they can succeed,” she says.

Her message to high school students who are considering enrolling at Averett is this: “Don’t be afraid. It’s a big, new world for you now, and it is filled with possibilities. You should be eager to explore them all … and we are here to help.”

Part of that helping includes travel. Realizing that professional conferences provide invaluable experiences, she takes the education students to a conference every semester. She also provides field trips to alternative programs, including The Hatcher Center for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Council for Exceptional Children in Lynchburg and the North Carolina Reading Association in Raleigh.

Not far enough? She’s taking students to London and then to the University of Wales (Prifysgol Cymru in Welsh) to study. She went there in 2011 to meet with the administrators and to see the Welsh schools. Now it’s time for Averett students to do the same.

She says that the education students at Averett are bright, enthusiastic, energetic and — equally important — passionate. “Know your passion, live your passion, teach,” she says. “That’s the way to make a positive change for the future. Our education majors know it, and it’s why they are so committed.”


Doctor of Education, Educational Administration with an emphasis in Special Education, The College of William and Mary

Educational Specialist, Educational Administration with an emphasis in Special Education, The College of William and Mary

Graduate studies, the University of Virginia, toward endorsements in Special Education Teacher Licensure

Master of Education, Reading Specialization, Averett College

Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education with an emphasis in teaching grades 4-7 and Developmental Reading K-12, Averett College