For Troy University alumna Ronda Walker, 2014 brought life-changing news.
The 1994 cum laude graduate in history and political science and a member of the Montgomery County Commission was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.
“Your whole outlook changes,” she said. “You discover with renewed vigor what is truly important and learn to not sweat the small stuff.”
Walker credits her faith, the support of family and friends and a determined attitude with enabling her to fight and beat cancer. As a testament to her attitude, Walker never missed a county commission meeting during her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. That determination was also present in her family life.
“I told my husband that we were not going to let my diagnosis and treatments disrupt our lives,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, my husband had been training for a marathon. There is so much time and effort that goes into that training. He told me that he was going to stop his training, but I told him not to do that. He ran the marathon in March and our children and I were there at the finish line at Riverwalk Stadium to watch him finish the race.”
Throughout her professional life, Walker has served in numerous public service positions, but she admits that her personal battle with cancer has changed her.
“I live my life more intentionally,” she said. “Every day, I wake up and try to do something to help others. I love more, I help more and I’m more empathetic. I don’t live that way out of fear, but rather, I just don’t want to waste any time. I’m a stronger person physically and mentally today than ever before.”
For Walker, it was the family atmosphere that convinced her to attend Troy University and she still has fond memories of her time on campus. In fact, she said if she had it to do over again, she wouldn’t change a thing about her time at the University.
“Moving away from home and being on your own for the first time in your life is one of the biggest life experiences a young person can have,” she said. “I loved my time at TROY. There was just such a family atmosphere. You were able to get to know your professors, and ask questions and have one-on-one conversations with them. I was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, and the lessons that taught me in terms of forming relationships and having responsibilities was amazing. The Greek system at TROY is so vibrant. I lived on campus in a dorm my entire time there and it was just such a great experience and a beautiful campus.”
Walker said TROY continues to have a tremendous impact on her life.
“Many of the relationships developed during my time at Troy University still affect me, both personally and professionally, today,” she said, noting that she still enjoys regular activities with her sorority sisters.
Following graduation, Walker spent several years in Washington, D.C., working on the legislative staff of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Hawaii in 2002, and then moved back to her hometown where she met and married Jason Walker, a native of Hueytown and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
In 2010, Walker was asked to serve on the congressional staff of U.S. Rep. Martha Roby. As a congressional field representative, Walker traveled throughout the 2nd Congressional District, meeting with local elected officials and business and community leaders assisting them with various projects.
In 2014, Walker was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley to fill an open seat on the Montgomery County Commission. She won re-election to the post.
An active part of the community, Walker was named River Region Citizen of the year in 2016 and is a past president of Troy University’s Montgomery Metro Alumni Chapter. She and her husband have four children.