Arlene L. Keifer of Front Royal, who co-founded the Project International Emphasis organization in 1990, received a degree in secretarial science from Laurel Ridge Community College in 1975 and an associate of applied science degree in accounting from Laurel Ridge in 1978. She received her master of business administration degree (MBA) from Shenandoah University.
Education and striving for success are important to Keifer, who is retired after teaching at Laurel Ridge.
“I have worked with people in all walks of life and have always encouraged – no, demanded – they be the best they can,” Keifer said.
Keifer assisted in founding the Small Business Assistance Center in 1986, which was begun at Laurel Ridge and was a forerunner to the present Small Business Development Center, based in Middletown. She was named an Laurel Ridge outstanding alumnus in 1992 and was granted professor emeritus standing in 2000.
Keifer attends Rivermont Baptist Church in Warren County, where she has taught a class for people with mental retardation since 1972. She is a board member of Blue Ridge Opportunities and has also held the offices of vice president and treasurer for the organization. She is a member of the Arc of Warren County, and she received an award from Habitat for Humanity for outstanding work in the mental health field.
Although she is retired, Keifer says she continues to take classes for learning and pleasure.
“Though I am auditing, I strive to do the best of my ability,” she said.
Keifer said that due to her husband’s ill health, she decided to further her education later in life than traditional students.
“It was a fortunate choice, since he died shortly after I received my MBA,” she said.
While she was working on her MBA, Keifer also juggled working full time at Laurel Ridge, teaching part time at Laurel Ridge and maintaining home responsibilities.
“I still graduated summa cum laude,” she said.
Keifer said her one desire has always been to make a difference.
“Dreams can come true if one is willing to work hard to make it so,” she said. “My dream of becoming a professor and making a difference in my students’ lives came true.”
“I want all students and potential students to know that if I – an older student – could do it, so can they.”
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.