“Shenandoah had the best of everything,” said Annie Bradfield ’09. Bradfield chose the university because she wanted to go to a small liberal arts school that wasn’t in a big city. She also has always enjoyed being around music, culture and art, so Shenandoah was the perfect fit. “Shenandoah is a great school – it’s small but with endless opportunities,” said Bradfield
The fondest memory that Bradfield has of her time at the university is all the friendships she made, and she still remains close to many of her Shenandoah friends today.
Bradfield is the executive director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce, Virginia. The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is a full-service wildlife hospital. In her position, she oversees the day-to-day operations, which includes the hospital, learning center and outdoor Wildlife Walk. “We treat over 2,600 native animals each year – from foxes to bald eagles to snakes,” said Bradfield. “In addition to treating sick, injured or orphaned animals, we also teach the public about the natural world around us and how to be good stewards of the land. I feel like what I am contributing to today is giving people the knowledge and passion to create positive change in our environment for generations.”
Another major part of her job as executive director is fundraising for the organization so it can be successful and sustainable. After graduating from Shenandoah, Bradfield went into the non-profit career field, focusing on development. She has worked in Shenandoah University’s Office of Advancement, and at Project HOPE and Blue Ridge Hospice, finding that her true passion was environmental conservation.
“Non-profit development work can be very daunting,” said Bradfield. “However, when you see the impact of your work it makes it all worth it.” This is the most rewarding part of her career. She has helped make some incredible non-profit programs a reality, including bringing healthcare to remote areas in Africa, creating protected habitats for migratory birds in South America and providing free grief support to people in her own community.
Bradfield believes that her Shenandoah education challenged, enlightened and inspired her, and the lessons she learned at the university have stayed with her throughout her career. “I really got to know my teachers and they would guide me towards classes that they thought I would be interested in or that would challenge me,” said Bradfield. “I owe a lot to Shenandoah University…they took a chance on a kid right out of school and it launched me onto an incredibly rewarding career path.”
Bradfield’s advice to students is: “To make sure you are passionate about the mission of your organization. It is hard work and it takes a lot of soul and energy – if you aren’t passionate about it, you will fail.”