Randall P. Wagner, '80 & Sarah Staker, ’08
Randall P. Wagner, M.D., ’80 B.S. Physics
Randall Wagner enrolled at Wright State University in 1976, immediately after being discharged from the U.S. Navy where he served as a hospital corpsman with the Marines. Wagner majored in physics and was a departmental scholar for most of his undergraduate years, and was also in the departmental honors program. In 1980, he graduated from Wright State with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. Wagner earned his M.D. at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine in 1984, and stayed at Vanderbilt an additional three years as a resident in internal medicine. It was at Vanderbilt that he met his wife Debra, who was also an internal medicine resident.
Wagner and Debra then took a "gap year to volunteer at a bush hospital" in Western Province of Kenya where they served as medical directors. The work was extraordinarily gratifying, but they did witness the spread of the AIDS epidemic out of Nairobi into rural Africa.
Upon their return to the United States, Randall spent four years at Boston University as a fellow in pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine, where he wrote and published a number of book chapters and peer review papers dealing with the pulmonary and immunologic consequences of HIV infection. Randall moved to the National Institutes of Health as a research fellow in the laboratory of immunology, extending the research he had started in Boston.
Wagner joined the faculty at George Washington University School of Medicine in 1995 as an assistant professor. Though he was largely involved in patient care, teaching, and research, he also had a number of directorships (intermediate care unit, Department of Respiratory Care, and co-director of the intensive care unit) and was co-investigator on eight clinical trials.
In 1999, he left academics and became an intensivist at the Washington Adventist Hospital. In 2007, Randall became the first chairman of a newly formed Department of Critical Care Medicine and was given the Physician "RISES" Award the following year. Last year, he became the vice president and chief medical officer for the Washington Adventist Hospital.
His wife, Debra Benator, M.D., is an associate professor of medicine in the infectious diseases section at the George Washington University School of Medicine.
Wagner and Debra have three children: Tzipora is a senior at MIT Cambridge, Massachusetts; Naami is a freshman at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana; and Kalman is a high school senior.
Sarah Staker, B.F.A. in Dance, ’08
Sarah Staker started dancing when she was three years old. By age 11, the Portsmouth, Ohio, native had already received a scholarship to the North Carolina School of Arts for a summer dance intensive.
“It was five weeks in North Carolina. I danced six days a week,” Staker recalled. “My parents sent me because they knew it would either make me or break me.”
The summer in North Carolina only solidified Staker’s passion for performing. “I loved it and knew that was what I was going to do,” she said.
With a strong foundation already in place, Staker further enhanced her skills as a dance major at Wright State. Teressa McWilliams, associate professor of theatre arts and dance, had a particularly profound impact on Staker. “She brought me a long way,” Staker recalled. “She’s amazing.”
Some of Staker’s fondest memories from Wright State are of being on stage in the theatre department’s musicals. “I am a dancer first. That’s what I’ve done my whole life,” she explained. “But I also wanted to do musical theatre. The people and the directors—that experience was the best.”
Following her 2008 graduation, Staker headed to Chicago, where she studied with the Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. Then it was off to Holland America Line cruises, where she performed on the ship and traveled to more than 30 countries in just over a year. The cruise ship gig allowed Staker to save enough money to move to New York City.
After landing in the Big Apple, Staker was offered summer work with regional theatre companies. She performed in AIDA at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and Promises, Promises at Stages St. Louis.
Upon returning to New York, Staker joined the Radio City Rockettes—a job she landed on her first audition. She recently finished her second season performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
When she’s not dancing with the world-famous Rocketttes, Staker judges dance competitions and occasionally teaches.
She hopes to perform on Broadway one day and to eventually expand into film and television work. “I still audition for Broadway shows in my off season,” she explained. “I like being in New York, living and working in the city.”